The United Metallurgical Company (AO OMK, Moscow) and the OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation co-hosted the 8th Art-Ovrag Urban Culture Festival in the Town of Vyksa, Nizhniy Novgorod Region. This year, the festival was held between June 9 and 11 and involved over 10 sites, including Vyksa Steel Works (AO VSW, and OMK subsidiary).
The primary motif of the 8th Art-Ovrag Festival was “useful art”, or art designed to develop relationships inside urban society. The Festival's events were attended by over 12,000 participants.
Its official guests included Acting Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Governor Gleb Nikitin, Chair of the OMK Board of Directors Anatoly Sedykh, and local municipal Chief Executive Office Vladimir Kochetkov. They attended the Festival's opening ceremony and the presentation of the public transit stops built following an international architectural competition held by OMK.
“Art-Ovrag became an event both on the regional and the national scale. The primary festival motif this year echoes our effort to create a comfortable urban environment in the Nizhniy Novgorod Region. I believe that Vyksa’s experience should be sought after throughout the region while the objects created around town should be both beautiful and useful”, noted Regional Chief Executive Officer Gleb Nikitin.
“Russia is not a nation made entirely of large cities. It also includes a huge number of small communities. Vyksa is a very representative case in point. And life in Russia is defined largely by towns like this. Our company cares both about production and the environment inhabited by our employees and their families. That is why we came to organize the festival”, said OMK First Executive Anatoly Sedykh.
Martin's Passions, a theatrical performance at the Vyksa Steel Works open-hearth furnace facility, became the festival's core project. The performance directed by Golden Mask winner, director, and choreographer Anna Abalikhina was about the closure of the last large open-hearth furnace in the country. The VSW steel making facility was shut down in March this year since the plant converted to advanced technologies. The theater troupe gave some thought to the theme of changing industrial eras masterfully taking advantage of sounds from actual production converted into music, contemporary dance, and interviews with veterans to create a set representing one of the largest existing open-hearth facilities in the nation. A large team is involved in the project together with Anna Abalikhina: production designer Ksenia Petrukhina, composer Alexey Syssoyev, playwright Ekaterina Bondarenko. The project curator is director Yuri Muravitsky.
French artist, architect, and production designer Laurence Falzon and curator Bertrand Gosselin put up a 100-m long table in Vyksa's museum square. Local residents and festival guests used it to have parties and simultaneous chess and checkers displays. The square also hosted an evening of music and poetry.
A children's art park was opened in Vyksa as part of the Art-Ovrag program. It is a new urban landscaping project developed by experts in childhood developmental environments, architects, and artists in collaboration with Vyksa residents using sketches by secondary school students. Its primary objective is not only to enable artists to express themselves but to involve town residents in collaborative creation and to get their ideas realized with maximum benefit for the town. The project was implemented by the Druzhba Architectural Studio from Moscow, the Children's Town Project, and artist Roman Ermakov.
Street artist and contemporary art laureate Timofey Radya (T-Radya, Ekaterinburg) created an illuminated neon sign in one of Vyksa's parks as a special project for the town's residents.
The OMK-Uchastiye Foundation held a competition of children's art called "Vyksa: My Hometown". A cartoon about the town was produced using the best drawings.
A multimedia show opened at the historical Batashev-Shepelev estate; master classes and competitions in freestyle football, parkour, skateboard, workout, BMX, and break dance were held in the central park and the town square.
The new thing about this festival is parallel program from Vyksa residents sending their own creative ideas in to the festival. The organizers selected 10 best projects and helped the town's residents implement them as part of the Art-Ovrag program. These are initiatives in poetry, dance, and sports. An automotive repair shop, for example, held a master class and lectures in auto tuning. At the time of the festival, Vyksa operated an outdoor movie theater screening short films.
"We are very happy that over the years Vyksa residents have grown to trust the festival to the point where they submit their creative projects to improve the urban environment without being afraid of the competition from seasoned artists and architects. It is nice to see Vyksa residents realizing themselves not only in their chosen professions but in other areas as well. We believe that this is very important for the development of people, the town, and the entire country", noted OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation Supervisory Board Chair Irina Sedykh who authored the Art-Ovrag idea and co-organizes the festival.
The Art-Ovrag Urban Culture Festival has been held annually since 2011. The fest is co-sponsored by the United Metallurgical Company and the OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation with the support of the Vyksa and the Nizhniy Novgorod Executives (Vyksa, Nizhniy Novgorod Region, is where OMK's key assets Vyksa Steel Works is located).
For the past two years the festival has been supervised and overseen by the 8 Lines design team with Anton Kochurkin acting as the festival's chief curator, and Yulia Bychkova as the Art-Ovrag producer.
Art Ovrag is the only culture project in Russia to develop an entire city. It is the reason Vyksa currently has over 85 art objects, an art residence of its own, art court yards that are being created in collaboration with the residents while the town museum has begun filling up with works of contemporary art.
While the festival is going on, Vyksa turns into a single stage which is used to host outdoor shows by well-known artists and performers, on the one hand, and becomes a catalyst for the citizens’ creative impulses, on the other. The event brings together different parts of contemporary culture: theater, visual arts, architecture, music, dance, and fashion. Street art is a traditional component of the largest provincial festival. The festival’s mission is to create a new urban environment and a public space that would inspire everyone to be creative.
Today, Vyksa is especially important for Russian street art. This is where the best Russian and international street artists undertake their projects. Here, street art is understood as a very broad notion: over the 8 years of the festival, the town has been developing rapidly: it now has design public transit stops, art courtyards created with resident involvement, a year-round educational program, an art residence that provides a workspace for famous artists.