2017: A Centenary Like No Other

posted by Morning Star in Features

Russian Revolution Centenary Committee co-chair RALPH GIBSON reports on the many unique events lined up to mark the revolution in the coming months

IT’S already clear that the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution has captured the interest and imagination of a vast range of organisations and institutions across Britain.

The momentum is only likely to increase as the year progresses towards the key date of November 7, or October 25 according to the Julian calendar used in Russia at that time — hence the “Great October Socialist Revolution.”

The Russian Revolution Centenary Committee (RRCC) continues to draw in individuals and organisations planning to mark this epoch-changing event, as well as working on its own major one-day celebration on November 4 at Congress House in central London.

At its press launch last month, the RRCC welcomed Cuban ambassador HE Teresita Vicente, who spoke about the revolution’s decisive role in the evolution of ideas and movements which led to the creation of a socialist Cuba.

She noted the vital role played by the USSR in the continued existence of socialism on the island in the face of massive opposition from the United States and the forces of capitalism. And she was in no doubt about the positive impact of the revolution across the Caribbean and Latin America.

Though they may not interpret the results of the revolution in such positive terms, its significance can be seen in the attention the centenary will receive at some of Britain’s major London-based institutions.

The Royal Academy begins the year with Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 (February 11-April 17), while the Design Museum follows with Imagine Moscow (March 15-June 3).

The British Library’s contribution Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths runs from April 27 to August 29, while Tate Modern ends the year with Red Star Over Russia which runs from November 8 until February 18 2018.

A series of major arts events in Wales next year, involving the Welsh National Opera and the National Museum of Wales, have also been announced.

But the focus of the RRCC is on facilitating the exchange of ideas, information and support among smaller, less well-resourced organisations. The committee aims not only to mark the anniversary but also to inform debate about the Russian Revolution’s continued relevance to politics and society today.

Co-founded by the Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School (MML) and the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS), it brings together a broad-based coalition of labour movement, heritage and cultural organisations, including the Morning Star.

The MML is working on a touring exhibition which explores the context of the revolution in the first world war and its impact on Britain.

The SCRSS is planning a seminar which will draw together historians and academics from Russia and this country and will also be putting on an exhibition drawn from its extensive archives and collections.

Other ideas emerging are the possibility of recreating the choir of the Communist Club, rehearsed readings of early Soviet plays, performances of early Soviet chamber or orchestral music and screenings of classics of the early Soviet cinema.

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