Festival of Urban Culture ARTEMOFF

The name of the town, Uryupinsk, is synonymous with provincialism, often used to describe a remote location “in the middle of nowhere”.

Project geography

Town of Uryupinsk, Volgograd region (Volga region in the south of Russia). Located 330 km from the administrative centre of the region, city of Volgograd, and 695 km from Moscow. Founded in 1618, population - 38267 people.

Project Lead
Valeria Melovanova

Project Description

The name of the town, Uryupinsk, is synonymous with provincialism, often used to describe a remote location «in the middle of nowhere». Uryupinsk has turned this into a brand and in 2012 registered an official trademark «a capital of the Russian backwater». The area’s rich history and cultural heritage, going back to Don Cossacks and the famous Pokrov Fair, make the town truly unique. However, local residents have felt the need to re-examine this legacy and identify new assets in their environment so as to adapt and stay relevant in a rapidly-changing world.

The first phase of the project addressed the absence of a recreational offer in the area, which would be attractive to young people, supporting identity and social development. There is also a lack of opportunities for local communities to influence decision-making and initiate change to their surroundings. The art festival «Artemoff», first organized in 2017, transformed familiar public spaces into new platforms for communication and exchange, introduced a fundamentally new type of leisure for the local area, and gave rise to informal artistic groups. Over 80 teenagers aged 14–18 volunteered in the planning and delivery of the festival programme. Over the year, 9000 people took part in the project’s events and activities, including exhibitions, public talks, workshops, and art residencies.

The project has revitalized the two main public spaces in town, the Art Gallery and Komsomol Square, which have taken on central roles in social life of the community. During the festival, they hosted exhibitions and events, open air screenings, and concerts. Ten new public art installations, co-created by professional artists and local residents, appeared around town, allowing locals to engage with their environment and take a fresh look at familiar surroundings.

Objectives of the next phase

The 2019 edition of the festival will continue to widen public participation and develop new forms of collaboration with artists, consultants and local communities. The festival aims to become a common space for sharing and exchange between communities, local councils, and public organizations. There are plans to unite several destinations around Uryupinsk to form a single tourist route.

The festival will run annually, evolving over time into an anticipated event and a tourism asset for the whole area. This will form part of the vision for the economic and cultural development of Uryupinsk through community engagement and support of local initiatives.


Project team

Project lead
Valeria Melovanova