Russian Culture in London
For the hundreds of thousands of Russians in London, cultural events are hugely important. It allows those that have lived in London for a long time, second generation Russians and students to celebrate their culture and be part of a wider community. The opportunity to connect with rodina (homeland) through culture is one that is regularly seized across the capital.
Although large in number, the Russian population in London is discreet and it can be hard to find out about Russian cultural events that are taking place. The Russian diaspora are more visible when they attend high profile events, like watching a recital by classical pianist Evgeny Kissin at the Barbican or catching a performance by the Sovremennik Theatre group but there are a whole host of smaller events, art shows, and community-based projects out there that remain somewhat hidden.
We have put together this guide to Russian culture in London to make it easier to seek out interesting events and talks. In order to do this, we have listed various organisations and blogs that are helping preserve Russian language in the UK and fostering cultural exchanges and collaborations between the UK and Russia.
Notes of an Idealist
This blog is an excellent source of information on Russian theatre performances as well as offering poetry alongside cultural and opinion pieces.
Belka Productions was founded to promote Anglo-Russian cultural exchange through a focus on Russian and Eastern European drama. The partnership of director Oleg Mirochnikov and producer Oliver King has yielded great results and it is well worth keeping an eye out for readings in the capital.
Russian Literature and Poetry
London Book Fair
The London Book Fair features a number of prominent Russian authors as well as excellent Russian-language events. Visit the website for more details.
The London Library’s Märit and Hans Rausing Russian Collections contain 26 significant eighteenth century Russian works as well as over 13,500 other titles. The Library wrote a blog about the collection that you can read here.
Pushkin in Britain Festival
This annual festival, taking place in early June, celebrates Russian Poetry and Art. The highlight of the festival is a hotly-contested poetry tournament. Visit the website for the 2015 programme.
This St James’ modern European art gallery specialises in twentieth century Russian émigré art.
Calvert 22 Gallery
The Calvert 22 Gallery is reopening in the summer of 2015 when it will continue to showcase contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe as well as putting on talks and cross-disciplinary events.
Russian Art Week
29th May – 5th June 2015 and November 2015
Various cultural events, art exhibitions and auctions make up this bi-annual action-packed celebration of Russian art.
The popular student comedy talent competition KVN is thriving in London. The “England Cup” (Кубок Англии) often sees several Universities competing.
Russian Song Festival
2015 sees the 9th International Contest and Festival of Russian and English Song with a number of performances by renowned singers and musicians. 2014 saw Sergey Zakharo perform with virtuoso pianist, Alexander Kagan.
With the strapline ‘Russian Feasts with Slavic Generosity and British Humour’, this Russo-foodie website puts on the occasional spectacular gastronomic event in London.
Russian Events in London Listing Sites
It is important to be able to find out about Russian cultural events in London and beyond. These sites list various cultural events across London and beyond.
· Event First
· The Kompass (Russia Beyond the Headlines)
· Russian Gap
Russian Cultural Blogs
Russian Art and Culture
Working with leading museums, galleries, theatres, and ballet companies, Russian Art and Culture provides news on Russian cultural exhibitions and events in London and across the world. In 2014, it was voted one of the Top Ten Arts and Culture at the UK Blog Awards.
This blog follows cultural goings-on in London with a regularly updated events section.
Newspapers and Magazines
Angliya is Britain’s biggest weekly Russian newspaper. They are also on Facebook where they share details of events.
Russian UK Magazine
This magazine is available to read online and includes listings of some events in London as well as articles on Russian culture.
Russian Organisations & Associations in London
Pushkin House is a non-profit, non-political organisation dedicated to Anglo-Russian cultural exchange, sharing ideas and partnering with organisations. It is also a fantastic resource centre for individuals and institutions. It is an excellent source of information on Russia and Russian culture facilitating and distributing information about Russian cultural events in London.
A cultural organisation set up in 2000 to promote and strengthen cultural and intellectual ties between Russia and the West. It features a dual language cultural listing of relevant events.
The Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS)
The SCRSS is a library and cultural centre in London, setup in 1924 by key British and Soviet artists including Virginia Woolf and Alexei Tolstoy. Its aim is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the culture, language and history of Russia and the former Soviet Union. It holds events throughout the year.
Russian-British Cultural Association (RBCA):
The RBCA is an organisation aimed at developing cultural links between Russia and the UK. As part of this mission, it promotes Russian cultural experiences by organizing events for the British public. Check out the events section.
Great Britain – Russia Society
A good place to find out about events, in particular lectures from the charity’s own programme of talks that take place at Pushkin House.
Russian Community Centre – Croydon
This Croydon-based organisation promotes both Russian language and culture.
Further Reading and Resources
The Russian Embassy has a list of useful sites regarding all Russian Community Associations in the UK
20 Bedford Way Russian Event Venue
20 Bedford Way has hosted numerous fantastic events celebrating Russian culture – from sold-out stand-up comedy gigs to theatre. We continue to put on great shows by the likes of Truimf Productions and Reka Productions but are always looking to partner with more organisations and individuals who want to showcase Russian culture in a Central London event venue. Our central location in Bloomsbury appeals to many due to its accessibility from all over London as well as for anyone travelling from further afield. Our flagship Logan Hall theatre space comes with a full PA system and 60 channel stage lighting rig with a technician on hand if required. For more details call us today on 020 7612 6143 or complete an enquiry form.
Header image is the set model for “Scheherazade” by Georges Reinhard (1911), design by Leon Bakst via Leo Boudreau