Last year, silk plant of the Darnitsky district in Kyiv has been revitalized and transformed into the «Platforma» (Platform) Art-zavod. One of the first opportunities to see the renewed location was the festival of street-food.
Industrial premises became a suitable area for concerts and festivals, as well as co-working that was organized here. But this is not the end. Art-director Roman Tugashev told EMPR what sport-lovers and IT-specialists would be able to find here in the nearest future and shared how it all began.
EMPR: How did you come to the idea of the «Street-food» festival?
Roman Tugashev: The idea of the festival appeared in spring 2013. At that time there were no such festivals in Ukraine. Only themed fairs, usually of very poor quality. (…) I often visit different places and I know that street-food is diverse, tasty and even healthy sometimes. Street-food is popular nowadays because of our rhythm of life – (…) fast and of high-quality. (…) The idea of the festival is to show our guests and citizens that street-food can be various(…), that eating on the run is absolutely normal. When you come to Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, everywhere you can see people eating while walking. You can see a lot of that in London. (…) Rhythm of life there dictates certain conditions: you have to eat fast, have some snack, but this snack has to be of high quality.
EMPR: You travel a lot, what is the place with the best street-food organization?
Roman Tugashev: If we talk about Europe, then it’s without a doubt London and Berlin. (…) There is one more city – Helsinki. Street-food there is extremely well-developed. Food trucks are very common in Helsinki. You can buy annual license and ride across the whole Northland. (…)
EMPR: Please, tell us about the first street-food festival.
Roman Tugashov: I had a desire and need to show what the street-food exist. I have been searching for the first participants for about two months and I’m very grateful that I’ve found them and they believed in me. Because there was no market as such. No matter how posh this sounds, but we created the market of the street-food. (…) There were seven participants. That was amateur level. (…) At 4 p.m. we were out of stock. We expected 300 persons maximum. (…) But arrived more than 1000 people. Of course, we received many negative reviews about our nonprofessional attitude. (…) But then I saw that people were hooked, they liked it (…) and one month later we made another festival on the territory of VDNKh (acronym for the All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy). There were about 15-20 participants and our audience was huge again. Third festival was also on VDNKh, fourth – on the Darynok’s (market in the Darnitsky district) park lot. (…) We had a fear that if we relocate the festival, nobody will come here. (…) But I was sure we were doing it right. On the basis of my experience of what I saw in other cities and other countries – no matter where you hold the festival, if your product is cool and of high quality – people will come anyway.
EMPR: How come that the festival was located at the «Platforma» Art-zavod?
Roman Tugashev: After my experience with VDNKh I realized that the festival is no longer capable of serving itself and relocating from one place to another because of huge number of participants, connection, and communications. We have to settle down somewhere. It happened that «Platforma» iArt-zavod nitiative only started to arise, this was a territory of tacky old silk plant of the Darnitsky district. We found touch points and realized that we can move in the same direction, be of service to each other. So, from summer 2014 our constant location is «Platforma» Art-zavod. Since the 7th street food festival, all our festivals are held here: our City Food Fest, Artisan Coffee Festival – all here. (…)
During this time street-food joints started to appear. This is a very slow process because of such a common reason: (…) all civil initiatives go ahead the legislative regulations. We are governed by norms of 1983-84 when it comes to food services. There is no such notion as food truck, although about two months ago Kyivrada (Kyiv City Council) adopted the regulation (…) that defines what the food truck is and what is street-food commerce. (…) At least we have something (…), because it’s hard not to notice us: administration, ministers and deputies visit us and spend a great time (…). They see the potential. They see there is a big amount of young people, who are ready to come to the street, take place in their food truck, cook, make money, pay taxes and provide jobs for others. (…)
Now we have 30 thousands of people audience in two days. More than 100 joints with food, more than 100 non-food joints: clothes and Ukrainian manufacturers. Festival nowadays is the way to spend your weekend in the city. (…) Our guests spend averagely 3-5 hours here during the warm period.
EMPR: We have to admit that you have an extremely well-organized security system considering the audience of 30 thousand people.
Roman Tugashev: We focused on it very closely. We instruct our security to be polite, it’s very important. We bought metal detectors and frames, because we understand the situation in our country and we want all guests to feel safe and comfortable. As experience shows, all guests react perfectly well.
EMPR: What are the economics of the festival? How does it pay itself? How does it exist and develop?
Roman Tugashev: Economics of the festival consists of the entrance tickets and rent of the participants. We have partners and sponsors, but we direct their programs to the area development. All that we’ve done in this area… There was nothing there. (…) Now we can see the grass, windows were replaced. After we brought in an entrance fee, we started to see some profitability and payback. Now we have this payback and start to create value.
EMPR: Will the state be supportive?
Roman Tugashev: No, that is not our goal. We are self-sufficient and we are able to provide for ourselves. Although we started to cooperate with the Department of Tourism in Kyiv Oblast and Department of Tourism of Kyiv city. They have programs for popularization of tourism in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast and they consider our location as one of the main reasons to visit in Kyiv. (…)
We want people in Europe get to know us. We think that we are worthy of them coming here, see how we do that and spend their weekend. (…)
EMPR: What plans for the future does «Platforma» have?
Roman Tugashev: At present we think strategically of how to work in 2016. We want «Platforma» to be open every weekend. But not for the festival. the street-food festival will be held once a month – large-scale, serious, but every weekend something should be going on here. We have an urban market of Ukrainian designers here. Our goal is to support Ukrainian designers, we have quite loyal lease terms for them. We support them, promote them, we are interested in this. We have a flea market, exhibition and galleries here. We think of this working on a regular basis.
EMPR: What cultural events are you planning to hold?
Roman Tugashev: I like boxing and know many people from that sphere. We decided to organize elimination bouts. That was not just a show, it was professional boxing with the support of the Professional Boxing League of Ukraine, elimination bouts that were credited by the boxers, fees were paid. (…) After we held elimination bouts, we have requests for ultimate fighting. (…) We want to develop a sport theme. (…) We also would like to build a basketball court (…) and organize street-ball championships. And there also will be a swimming pool.
This is the cluster. We want this to be a place where you can both work and relax. It will be great if people can come and send clothes to the dry cleaner’s, use some banking facility, work, have a cup of a good coffee, go down to the bar in the evening and drink craft beer. Also, we want some educational programs here. This is the blend of art cluster with campus and festival area. All you need for the comfort well-being is here. That is why we opened co-working (…) for 150 places and it’s always occupied. We are going to build co-working space of 4 thousand square meters, the biggest in Ukraine with the course for IT-technologies. This year we held several IT-conferences, (…) they were Ukrainian star-ups, angel-investors who decided where to invest. Someone even invested 50 thousand dollars. We also focus on education. (…) At the beginning of June next year we will have TechWeek – (…) IT-conference.