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How fundraising helps preserve cultural monuments throughout Russia

"When we tell that we will bring money, everyone becomes kind and responsive. Even the administration"

On November 23-25, the Arctic Art Forum gathered artists, designers, architects, experimental directors, musicians from Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden for the third time. Pavel Safronov, head of the Vnimanie Fund, spoke at a seminar on a comfortable urban environment organized by activists of the Arkhivazhno project. He told how to apply to the fund's website, how to attract money to the project, and explained why it is important to restore old cultural monuments. «7x7» quotes extracts from his speech.

 

City crazy

— When about six years ago various city projects were created, the topic of old houses, plates, fences was constantly avoided, but in vain. The idea to create the Vnimanie Fund appeared a year ago.

We are not trying to replace the functions of the state. We cannot repair historical monuments, they have a lot of licenses and there are lots of nuances, and therefore it costs twice as much. Restoration of the front doors in St. Petersburg costs about 300 thousand rubles, and if you restore it according to the state, then it is 600 thousand.

 

 

All the projects that have now been completed were made together with “Tom Sawyer Fest” [a social movement that restores the appearance of historically valuable monuments and art objects]. Officials think we're urban crazy. “Tom Sawyer Fest” looks like this for them: adults paint someone else's house. Unfortunately, they often perceive us as irritants. But if you write letters to the government, they start doing something. We need to communicate, look for approaches with the head of the settlement, other officials. I think it is easier in the villages.

 

How to apply and get money

— We have a form: you need to answer 20 questions: done, not done, ready to do. Before you apply, you must have all the information about the object. The first thing is to understand who the owner is, whether he is ready to invest money himself. Usually they are kind, helpful people. When we tell a person that we will bring money, everyone becomes kind and responsive. Even the administration.

 

 

Here are three main things that will help you get money from the fund:

— a clear estimate (the more detailed, the higher the probability that people will respond and send funds);

— cool pictures or videos to publicly present the object;

— a good story why this is important. Tell who lives or lived there, why he himself cannot help the house. We need an interesting story.

 

“They give as much as you ask”

— In life, we write in social networks: I supported such a project, and you support it. We like it when friends know about it. We do this to share our values. Therefore, people really want to see their picture when they donate money. This is so cool. If someone donates to our fund every month, their photo appears on the site. A lot of people. People will know who gave it. Nice people. I want to be among them.

Compared to other projects, we have a bonus — a huge information resource of Varlamov [urban blogger Ilya Varlamov, creator of the Vnimanie Fund]. A large number of people watch him. People respond, give money. They give as much as you ask. If we say: “We collect five thousand rubles,” a person hears and thinks that it is a lot of money to give, or he thinks that yes, I have that kind of money. It is clear that there are less people with big money. Try to ask for different amounts, and you will receive this money. We say: "We collect 300 rubles." A person hears and understands: yes, this is about me. He transfers this money. When we made payments in 500, 1000, 1500 rubles, we received such sums. Of course, it was possible to write your own amount, but this is rarely done. Then we doubled the last amount: 500, 1000 and 3000. And we again began to receive this money.

 

"One of a kind"

— Here is an old house. You like it very much, you have been walking past it for many years, and it is falling apart. You can not stand it anymore, but it is not clear what to do. You photograph this house, write how much you need to fix it, for example, 300 thousand rubles. And we send you 300 thousand. Money for projects is collected by fundraising. Now we receive about 460 thousand rubles a month in regular payments. Our ambitious goal is to collect 1.5 million rubles a month. Part of the money is given to projects, the smallest part goes to work with the site and about 120–130 thousand rubles for staff salaries. A targeted donation from people for a project usually accounts for 5–10% of the required amount. The project is financed from the fund money. We receive general payments from Moscow and St. Petersburg, although there is not a single project in Moscow yet. Everything is fine in Moscow, nothing is falling apart. If something breaks, they come and repair it.

 

 

There is no money in the regions, and this is a big problem. And not because the officials are bad (they are bad for sure), but there is simply no money, that's all. The official chooses: either to patch up the roof of the kindergarten, or to restore the old house. It is clear that they will choose a kindergarten. There are children. Culture is not a priority in our country. Therefore, except for us, no one will do anything. It's like "Ikea". Everyone likes "Ikea", it makes new tables. Cheap, cool, fashionable furniture. But there is an old table of the XIX century. One of a kind, and there will be no such new one, because the XIX century is over. And wooden houses, as before, will not be build.

 

House with a lion

— We collected money for a house with a lion. In the village Popovka in the north of the Saratov region. There are very unique interiors. In the house there was a village primitive, but amusing painting: a lion, George the Victorious, and other drawings. We restored this house, and when a girl from St. Petersburg saw this house, she was surprised and bought it for 200 thousand rubles. She made a museum there. The more such houses appear, the more quickly comes the understanding of why this is important.

 

Why make an old house if it falls apart tomorrow

— When we paint the facade, we attract attention to it. Tomorrow, people who literally walked by for years will notice what a beautiful house stands here. If the building will remain like this for 10 years — this is good. I think that in Russia in this respect everything is very bad now, and during our conversation the house is collapsing somewhere. But we have a tremendous legacy from our ancestors. We have no task to convince all people in Russia to appreciate cultural monuments, we do not need this. Changes are made by the initiative minority. And if we collect 1.5 million rubles a month, we will become a serious organization that will be able to attract more large investors and developers in the future. Just need to set the trend.


Arctic Art Forum takes place in Arkhangelsk for the third time. The organizers of the North-West branch of the National Center for Contemporary Art and the NGO "Arctic Institute of Art" put forward the topic "Cards of Meanings". Forum participants meet to discuss the problems that occur at the intersection of traditional and modern culture of the North, as well as to gather creative workers: designers, artists, architects, photographers and musicians at one site, to think about creating comfortable conditions for human life in the Arctic.

Ilya Varlamov announced the creation of the Vnimanie Fund on July 20, 2018. He is engaged in the protection and restoration of historic buildings and objects, as well as targeted assistance to local urban defenders, building owners and authorities. Details about his work can be found in the material of «7x7».

Karina Zabolotnaya, photo of the author, «7x7»

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