The "Agents of Change" who are behind all the creative activities in our city shared how they manage to do it.
Only a few years ago Minsk would not even dream of its own bar street, festival of street art and a number of creative spaces. But something happened and suddenly we can hear cautious conversations that our city is becoming a European capital and if you want to hang out there is no need to go to Vilnius anymore. The authorities have not changed, the economic crisis deepens, but the number of new places and interesting events is increasing. The people who in spite of the everlasting whining that nothing can be done in this country just do it and make a change, tried to explain this paradox.
Online magazine "Idea" has invited Mila Kotka, the curator of the Vulica Brasil street art festival and employee of the Embassy of Brazil in Belarus, Denis Valdes, the co-owner of the bar El Pushka and a teacher at the bartender school Splash & Dash and Yasia Karalevich-Cartel, a journalist of the online magazine CityDog.by to a discussion on the topic.
- We cannot say that it happened thanks to liberalization, - Yasia Karalevich-Cartel explains the reasons for the emergence of urban creativity,- but at the same time we cannot deny that the cultural sphere in Belarus got to enjoy a little bit more freedom over the last three years. The government has problems, and it is more likely to spend time resolving them rather than prohibiting a street art festival.
The journalist notes that people, who had a look at what cultural life is like abroad, came to Minsk and felt the need for having it in Belarus.
Denis Valdes concluded that "children have grown up": the majority of those creating the "hype" in Minsk already learned the hard way and are trying to make their own projects now. These people are still young, they have a lot of energy and ideas and they are not afraid to try.
Mila Kotka adds that we must mention the development of communication tools as well: 10 years ago it was hard to get in touch with a Brazilian artist, but now he can reply on Facebook in a few minutes: "Oh, cool, Belarus - where is it?"
- I believe that there has always been something going on in Minsk, people were active, they were rebuilding the city after the war. This city has a great history, and it’s a just a moment in time that it’s us shaping it now.
Yasia Karalevich-Cartel agrees with Mila and underlines that the first unusual projects began to appear quite a while ago.
- Our initiatives are making the authorities and the business sphere accustomed to the fact that such things are possible. When we wrote about the "Horizont" where "Korpus8" and "Korpus6" are situated and sent the article to its administration, we got the following response in the comments to the text. The official wrote: "You have written here "creative zone", but "zone" is such a bad word, how about writing "creative cluster?" And we must understand that if we wrote "cluster" four years ago it would make readers nervous, but now official says "creative cluster".
Of course, the road to success was not easy.
- Three years ago when we were trying to engage people in making Vulica Brasil everybody was saying "it's impossible", they said Minsk cannot be changed - admits Mila Kotka. - But in reality there are people everywhere. The biggest problem is that at all levels people are not willing to take the responsibility for anything.
Now Minsk residents have several hubs and at least two streets, which are ‘alive’ – Kastrychnickaya and Zybitskaya. Despite a number of bars and sometimes the same public, the streets concepts were different from the very beginning. The first one with its creative spaces, murals, brick walls and bars kind of sets the mood for people to come there in order to create something: take pictures, attend events, etc. Zybitskaya feels like it will create something for its visitors, for example, offering to have rest in bars, making a high-day right here right now. Zybitskaya street has always been the heart of the city, always busy with people, and it was renovated with the view of tourist crowds. Kastrychnickaya was created as an industrial center, place of work, now intellectual.
- It’s the businesses located in the said streets that get the profit from all the hype. And sometimes I think: "Why am I doing this?" But when you see that it inspires people, perhaps it is your mission, - says Mila Kotka.