Should art lead or should it follow public tastes? Should it provoke and stimulate, or soothe and entertain? And — the crux of the matter — how much should it cost, who should pay and who should benefit?
Russians like to tackle big, open-ended questions, but the arguments that have been front page news in Perm for two years are particularly contentious because they raise another issue, always relevant in Russia: Who gets to decide?
What began as a self-styled cultural revolution is now slipping into a culture war of sorts. On one side is a self-assured elite from Moscow, here to instruct the provinces on what is new, cool and cutting-edge. On the other side are the guardians of a local culture, who feel threatened and belittled by the implication that they are a bunch of rubes.
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