Setting an Agenda for Culture in Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia, 18 September 2015

What should be the agenda for culture in Georgia? Over 70 cultural operators discussed this topic in Tbilisi at a workshop run by the EU-EaP Culture and Creativity Programme on 18th September. The ideas from this group were rather interesting.

If the definition of an agenda is “the sum of written, public positions and is derived from a variety of sources”, then the Ministry of Culture's consultation process around their strategy for Roadmap for the Culture 2025 could become part of a common thread that all cultural actors can operate within.

There are some good examples of this in Europe. Estonia has boiled their national strategy down into one word: e-Estonia. That phrase emphasises the importance online technology across all areas of the country's development, and culture and creative industries are free to decide how they fit into that agenda. So what about Georgia?

Six groups developed their ideas separately and surprisingly each came up with a different top issue. Their six priorities were:

  • Liberalise the laws and tax for culture and creative industries

  • Prioritise and modernise cultural heritage

  • Reform the Ministry of Culture: Less bureaucracy; more funding!

  • Increase cultural education at all levels

  • Increase cultural space

  • Develop an enabling environment for the freedom of a creative vision.

Their reasons for these six were:

Georgian culture has a great tradition. We have a unique cultural heritage, which must be developed with a new approach and modern strategy. So I think that one of the areas that this programme should be directed at more development”. Inga Qaraia - President of the National Committee of Georgia

Georgian culture is experiencing very difficult times. Many weak areas of Georgian culture need urgent help. This requires the input of international European experience, but of course it needs to be adapted and implemented to fall in line with Georgian values and its culture”. Maka Dvalishvili - Director of the International Cultural Center

We have to promote and expand Georgian culture so that culture will become a top priority in government policies and not ignored and neglected as it is now. We have to show that cultural development will help develop other industries and sectors”. Gaga Chkheidze - Director of The Tbilisi International Film Festival

Europe has a very rich and diverse culture, they have achieved so much in the field of culture that their experience will prove invaluable. Through cooperation and consultation, we can also share our experiences in culture. Our priority is finding funding for the development of the cultural sector”. Eka Mazmishvili - Director of the Mardzhanishvili Theatre

Georgia at this moment is working on the development of the cultural policy, and when we finish work on this it will answer the many questions that society has regarding culture. What we call the modern art of tomorrow will become our cultural heritage”. Levan Khetaguri - Representative of the International Fund "Kavkasia"

My group concluded that education should be the starting point for the promotion of the cultural sector”. Maia Kipiani - Head of International Relations of the Tbilisi Academy of Arts

The modern world is in the process of globalization, and this has caused a process of merging different cultures especially when you consider that globalization is an economic interest. …. However it is also important not to lose our identity and culture. We must develop modern forms of culture. Culture is changing within so many spheres of society”. Tamta Shavgulidze – Quality Control, Academy of Art

Many of these priorities were based on current challenges facing the culture sector in Georgia today. The group was asked if any of the other comments during the discussions had been forward-focussed and more visionary. One person said a participant had proposed the vision: “Georgia is Culture”.




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