Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Artur Holavin (European University at Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

Care in Cultural Capital: NGOs, The Elderly and Art as a Need

Saint-Petersburg is simultaneously cultural and aging capital of Russia. As a result, art is an indivisible part of the social needs of vulnerable groups. Apart from food, living conditions, medical care, communication, the elderly of the city have a thirst for cultural events. Attending theatre, visiting museums, learning photography or participating in cinema festival are among basic needs of citizens with no regards to their social status. The local government has an extensive subsidy and programs to provide access to cultural events and opportunities to develop artistic skills of third age people. Unfortunately, due to bad public communication and overall discourse about babushka-style paternalistic aging most of the programs are far from reaching the target group. Here comes the non-governmental sector to link the elderly and the state (information dissemination), as well as, provide additional opportunities for the elderly.

Respectively, many social NGOs dealing with elderly care either use art as a tool to improve quality of life of the Russian elderly (e.g. Art therapy, knitting courses), or development projects to make culture accessible (free excursions to museums, charity collaboration with theatres). In other words, culture is an important part both of care-receiver demand and caregivers tool arsenal. The research is based on the dissertation project Russian NGOs Caring for The Elderly: Local Democracy to Clientelism. I use data collected by means of document analysis, semi-structured interviews and observation of care practices of Saint-Petersburg NGOs. By selecting projects, which are related to culture, I analyze how NGOs meet a need, which has a strong symbolic meaning in public discourse and self-identity of Saint-Petersburg inhabitants. Respectively, I study what care practices of Saint-Petersburg NGOs involves cultural aspect. As a result of the research I present different types of elderly care involving culture, which have both empowering and objectifying effect on elderly people.