Olga Kabo - supporting retired and unwell actors

Kind Luxury had the pleasure to speak to a young and driven social entrepreneur, Georgina Hemmingway. Her background is in UK politics but she has always been interested in international development.


A trip to Cambodia made those interests merge for her with the idea of social innovation. Spending time in Siem Reap, Cambodia's most popular tourist town, made her see with her own eyes what one of the guest speakers on social innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School had recently stated: "business is the only free agent in town". While the idea of business being totally free is obviously an exaggeration, the realisation that it has more freedom than any other influencing factors was certainly a powerful one.


Using business as a vehicle for positive social change was her motivation for co-founding the New Leaf Book Cafe. A restaurant, bookshop and event space in one, New Leaf donates 100% of its profits to educational projects in Siem Reap province; it has created its own book donation programme to rural schools and invests significantly in the development and welfare of its 17 strong team.




  Olga Kabo  


  Social Entrepreneur and Philanthropist  


  Self-sustaining, fully functional cafés where 100% of net profit is donated back into the community  





Helping can take many forms and you can do charity in lots of  different ways.


You can transfer money for the treatment of sick children, play at a charity performance and conduct concerts, or you can just come to Burdenko's hospital and hold a wounded soldier by the hand (with their injuries many can not speak) just to let them feel that they are valued; they are so grateful. To do good is an incredible joy and happiness.


We often collaborate with colleagues and charitable foundations, getting together to take part in events and actions. One way of helping out is through the "Artist" fund, which is organized by talented actors Evgeny Mironov, Maria Mironova and Igor Vernik.


The Foundation's activities are aimed at helping former artists and performers. We all understand that in any profession there inevitably comes a time when a person can no longer work actively and may need both material assistance and support as their  health is not the same. Artists, alas, are no exception.    

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I have worked in the Moscow Soviet Theatre for 16 years and there were a lot of long-serving actors like Nikolai Lebedev and Anatoly Adoskin. They are still active in the current repertoire, taking part in new productions, have youthful souls and really adore young people. And every step taken on the stage for our senior colleagues is like a special  event or celebration because they are in their zone. We, the younger generation, are very fond of them and respect them.


We thank them for their advice and their professional responsiveness. In response, they energise us with their creativity. 

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At the Moscow Soviet Theatre, I participate in the casting of performances and our Director of production is Yuri Eremin and the choreographer is Alla Sigalova. In our current production, young artists from our company and ones who have been with us for a while are kept busy, but, of course, the lead actor for us is the People's Artist of Russia, Anatoly Adoskin. He plays the role of the oldest actor Adam Vasilyevich. 

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You look at Anatoly Mikhailovich, sitting behind the scenes, and you can tell instantly from his reaction whether the cast are working well or not. We often gather after a performance for a glass of tea just to chat, exchange impressions and share news. And Adoskin is an avid member of our company. Of course, when he begins to share his expertise we all freeze and tune into his unique insight and stories about Iurii Zavadsky, Oleg Efremov and so many other characters from Russian theatre. This is a key part of the history of our country. These stories are infinitely valuable and are so much more immediate than just reading about them in even the most detailed biography. I am grateful to the destiny that has brought me to this point in my life.


There are numerous people and great partners who help, create, teach and pass on their wisdom of the theatre life.


The Moscow City Council periodically supports the initiatives of the "Artist" Foundation and we regularly put on  plays in support of retired and unwell artists. Once the curtain comes down, the founders are quick to report on how the Fund allocated the money collected.    

I am also involved together with associates in building the Andryusha Foundation. Its founders, Julia and Konstantin Zhabotinsky, help the talented children of Chelyabinsk and the Chelyabinsk region with the creative fulfilment of their inspirational dreams. And they are very good at it.


Many beneficiaries of the Foundation are today students of Moscow’s theatrical high schools, have appeared in films or have exhibited their paintings in prestigious galleries.


It's an incredible joy to see how a child bursting with creativity has gone on to make their name in the Arts with the support of people who care about them reaching their potential. I also play an active  part in the qualifying rounds to award our young talent for their "Acting skills" ahead of the solemn ceremony where the winners receive their honours.

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I would also like to talk about the Mission Foundation, which takes care of children from orphanages all over Russia. This winter, along with actress Alika Smekhova, we went to Veliky Ustyug, where we met 300 children from such institutions. The founders of the Mission gave children a chance to meet Santa at the Nord Pole and we also organised concerts and master classes with the participation of famous actors, directors and designers. Can you imagine just what an impression this made on the children? And how long will this trip stay in their memories?    

Looking ahead to the winter holidays, I will organise a children's charity film festival "Fairy Tale". During the holiday New Year holiday season, we will prepare surprises for our children who come from boarding schools and orphanages. They can meet with Santa and the Snow Maiden, receive gifts of sweets, and, of course, experience wonderful fairytale films. And after seeing the feature or animation, the children have a unique opportunity to communicate with the artists and performers of these films.


To see the happy, joyful and inquisitive eyes of these children is something which makes life worth living.


This is especially important today, in our aggressive and unkind times, when the world faces so many challenges and appears to beg for help. It's scary that there are terrorist acts, attacks, and explosions; the price of human life seems to have become devalued.

I will never forget the faces of the Aeroflot crew, who were held hostage in the hands of terrorists in Mumbai in 2006 but who miraculously survived. On the day of the terrorist attack, we, along with a group of Russian filmmakers headed by producer Victor Dobrosotsky, returned from the Goa Film Festival and by chance saw what was happening in India.  


The world is fragile and needs more people to do good things.

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But what can we do? Be kind, do not grumble at fate, create, return to the tales of our youth, appreciate and love life, enjoy it every second and pray that we all are happy. 

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