Vyksa to Host First National Conference on Small Urban and Historical Communities in October

Between October 5 and 7, 2018, the town of Vyksa (Nizhniy Novgorod Region) will be hosting the first National Conference on Small Urban and Historical Communities to revitalize small communities by engaging local residents in cultural practices. The conference will focus on the mechanisms for developing public spaces in Russia's small towns.
The conference is to be co-hosted by the OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation and the Russian Ministry of Construction and the Utilities with the support of the Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Government, the Vyksa Municipal Executive, the United Metallurgical Company (AO OMK, Moscow), the Monotown Development Foundation, the 8 Lines Design Studio, and the CENTER Strategic Development Agency (Moscow).

The project to create a comfortable living environment in Russian towns by improving public spaces is a priority for the Russian Federal Government in 2016 through 2021. Its objective is to assure that contemporary urban infrastructure develops in a comprehensive manner based on common approaches. This complex social task is especially significant for monotowns whose potential cannot be compared to that of large cities.

The conference is being hosted using a Russian Federation Presidential grant for the development of civil society made available by the Presidential Grant Foundation. The conference will present best domestic and international practices in creating a comfortable urban environment in Russian urban communities, the tools for "rebooting" problem areas that take the peculiarities of historical communities into consideration. Its objectives include improving the approaches and the methods to the design of and resident engagement into the building of an urban environment, identifying effective models for funding events, building a relationship with the business community as well as improving the skills of municipal officials.

For the first time in Russia, the same expert forum will bring together government officials and leading international and domestic specialists in developing public spaces in Russian small urban communities and monotowns, participatory design, the methods and mechanisms of funding a comfortable environment, social and cultural programming.

The town of Vyksa has unique experience in urban development gained by creating cultural projects. For the last 8 years, the Art-Ovrag Festival hosted by the OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation has been creating a serious new urban agenda by helping develop the local communities and the urban environment and create a better quality of life for the town's residents. The festival organizers also provided the impetus for the conference and will share Vyksa's experiences among the best cases of improvements for public spaces and participatory design.

Vyksa's experience in this area is also unique insofar as it is the outcome of active joint efforts by several stakeholders in town: the United Metallurgical Company (Vyksa's largest employer Vyksa Steel Works is an AO OMK company), the OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation, Vyksa's government agencies developing the monotown's urban environment, and thanks to support from the government of the Nizhniy Novgorod Region.

Vyksa is a laureate of a national competition for projects to create a comfortable urban environment in small urban and historical communities. The competition held this year as directed by the President of Russia received 455 entries from all over the country. This confirms the demand for change in small towns and demonstrates the urgent need for developing a unified approach and for improving the techniques to achieve this priority objective of the Russian government.

Leading Russian and international specialists will act as experts for the conference. The panel of speakers includes: Andrey Chibis, Russian Deputy Minister of Construction and the Utilities; Irina Sedykh, Chair of the Supervisory Board, OMK-Uchastiye Charity Foundation; Stanley Lung, Turenscape Partner, Director of Turenscape International Limited International Design Center; Edouard Moreau, French Orchestra Design Chief Executive Officer, Urban Planner and Urbanist; Anton Kochurkin, General Manager, 8 Lines Design Studio, Art-Ovrag Festival curator, ArchStoyaniye Festival curator; Sergey Georgiyevsky, General Manager, CENTER Strategic Development Agency; Natalya Fishman, assistant to the President of Tatarstan; Alissa Prudnikova, ROSIZO-GTsSI Regional Development Director, Commissioner and Art Director of the Urals Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art; Dmitri Smirnov and Nadezhda Snigireva, founding members of the 8 Lines Design Studio, and others.

More information at the official Conference website at sredagoroda.ru.