Colin Harbinson


Russia Overview: Sacred Fire

St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec ‘91 - Jan ‘92

Sacred Fire, held in St. Petersburg, Russia, was the first Arts Festival organized by International Festival of the Arts. It was also hailed as the first East West Festival of its kind. Sacred Fire was supported by the Mayor of St. Petersburg and the City Council of People's Deputies. Three hundred and seventy-five participants from thirty-two countries interacted with over three hundred Russian artists.

25,000 Tickets Sold
Tickets for festival activities were purchased by twenty-five thousand people. At the closing Gala performance, Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, sent a message of thanks and appreciation for this "significant event."

Proceeds from ticket sales were donated to specific orphan programs in the city. Children in four orphanages received two tons of clothing. In addition, a further twenty tons of food, clothes, and medical supplies were transported across Europe for the needy. Festival participants made daily visits to hospitals and orphanages.

Sold Out
Tickets for the Children's Festival sold out within hours of being available, with over one thousand attending daily. Moral and spiritual values were shared with the children through music, drama, puppets, and other creative expressions.

First Christmas Celebration in 70 Years
Sacred Fire's Christmas Celebration coincided with the first public recognition of that event in over seventy years. Two performances of 'The Scroll', a work by Canadian composer Bruce Stacey, were performed by the St. Petersburg Radio and Television Orchestra, along with Russian choir, soloists, and narrator.

Classical Festival in Former Communist HQ
The Classical Festival opened with performances in the former communist party headquarters. The New English Orchestra and American tenor, Timothy Bentch, performed with the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra. Audiences were moved to
tears with arias from Handel's Messiah, heard for the first time in seven decades.

Fine Art Exhibition
A fine art exhibition drew together many international and Russian painters for a very significant exchange. A painting by Swedish artist Janeric Johansson representing the power of forgiveness had a profound effect.

Historic Address
Dr. Oz Guiness, Director of the Williamsburg Charter Foundation, gave an historic address to the St. Petersburg City Council on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

Dialogue & Partnership
Businessmen, educators, medical workers, and other professionals met with their Russian counterparts for dialogue and ongoing cooperation and partnership.

Message to People’s Deputies Televised
Colin Harbinson, founder and CEO of International Festival of the Arts, was invited to address the full assembly of People's Deputies at the Marianski Palace. Part of his encouraging message was televised on the evening news to
a potential audience of over twenty-million people.

Over 100 Children Adopted
One festival participant was invited to help the Russian government draw up legislation on adoption. Well in excess of one hundred orphan children have subsequently been adopted into loving homes through organizations established
as a result of Sacred Fire.

Kirov Ballet Exchange
Participants spent time with the director of the famous Kirov Ballet School. They were invited back to dialogue with the staff and dance students.

Over $30,000 Raised For New Orphan Center
The New English Orchestra raised over $30,000 to partner in the establishment of a Russian charitable organization. A building was renovated to house this new Center For Orphan Tracking and Care.

Broadcast to 200 Million
Following Russian media coverage of the Festival, a film called 'Now and Forever' was produced by a St. Petersburg Television Company. It was broadcast to a potential television audience of over 200 million people.

Education Opportunities
Following the festival, IFA was instrumental in arranging for children of highly placed Russian government leaders to study in Colleges in Canada and the United States.

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