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Dear …

We, artist-researcher Natalia Gluklya (FFC Chto Delat’?) and sociologist Olga Sezneva (Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Universitet of Amsterdam), are developing a collaborative project with working title ‘Utopian Unemployment Union’. At this stage we are looking for partners who would like to work with us on ideas, their development and realization, and public dissemination of the project. One aim that we are pursuing now is funding. We are interested in applying for 1mln NOW-HERA grant ‘Cultural Encounter’ from the European Union.

Let us tell you about our initial idea, and the grant itself. We hope that if you find these ideas interesting, you would participate in applying for the grant.

Our basic concept is to explore cultural encounter through the interaction between two different groups, one elite and another precarious and marginalized. For example, in Russia we are planning to bring together ballerinas and construction workers. Russian classical ballet by many is perceived as the quintessence of Russian cultural tradition, and a major cultural ‘export’. As an art form, it is characterized by the desire for order, beauty and harmony. As a cultural phenomenon, however, ballet incorporates the idea of empire, power and discipline. As an institution, it continue to be dominated by ethnic Russians. Construction work, to the opposite, is perceived as polluted, disorderly, and undesirable activity. Like in many other countries, construction workers come from undocumented migrant background, and are received with disrespect and exclusion.

In the case of Russia, we would like to make these groups to collaborate: ballerinas will come to construction sites and to observe and participate in the work done there. They will be trained and supervised by construction workers. The migrant workers from construction sites will visit Vaganov School where they, in turn, will learn the language of ballet. Each set of participants will produce an item – a dance, an installation – expressive of the difference in professions and life styles of the groups. The process will be filmed and participants interviewed after each session.

We would like to invite you to become our partners in this project. This would mean working with us on adaptation and development of the general concept, as described above, to the specific context of your country, thinking about its possible output — performance, installation, seminar, conference, publication, etc.; and applying for funding.

Right now we are working on the grant application for NOW (Dutch National Research fund). The HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) Network just announced a new Joint Research Programme (JRP) on Cultural Encounters (CE). Nineteen research councils from 18 countries and the European Commission are making up to €18.5 million available. The research programme will fund new and exciting humanities-centred projects on Cultural Encounters involving researchers from three or more participating countries. Funding is available for research projects addressing the theme of Cultural Encounters that involve at least three researchers from three different eligible countries. More about this grant can be found on:

If you are interested in partnering with us, please, email us immediately. The deadline for stage 1, project outline, is May 4. By that date we have to submit:

A list of participant.

A brief description of the project.

Project budget.

To be able to submit an initial project description, we will need from you a concept and a budget, together with a list of participants and their short CVs.

You can get in touch with us any time via email:

Olga Sezneva:

Natalia Gluklya:

Sincerely yours,

Natalia and Olga