Mr. Levan Kharatishvili: "Participation in Creative Europe Programme is a significant success for Georgia"

Deputy Minister of Culture and Monuments Protection of Georgia talks about the work of the Ministry on Cultural Strategy, approaches to stimulate the development of creative industries and the pursuit of intercultural dialogue.

In 2015 the Ministry was actively involved in the international work and as a result Georgia has become the first Eastern European Partnership Country to join the Creative Europe Programme. The high membership fee of 74 000 EUR paid by the Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection opens up broad prospects to the culture professionals to recieve funding from the Programme budget of 1,5 million allocated by European Union by the end of 2020. In my opinion, this is one of the most important achievements of the new management. Besides, with the support of the Eastern Partnership Cultural Programme II we have started developing the Cultural Strategy, for the first time in the Georgian history. The Ministry has already developed the draft document. This is a 10-year strategy with 8 strategic directions and its aim is to have a dramatically better cultural environment in the country for 2025. The EU and European Counsel institutions state that the process of the strategy development was exemplary not only for Eastern Partnership countries but the whole Europe, as the Ministry chose to take a complicated way of communicating with all the interested parties of the society, their involvement in the document drafting process which included numerous meetings, consultations, surveys etc. A special web-page was created to host the materials. The document will be approved by the Government in February 2016 and its implementation will be obligatory not only for the Ministry of Culture but for all institutions serving the development of the Country.

Lately we have also colloborated with the Ministry of Economy and Tbilisi Municipality in order to present Georgia as a Feel Friendly Country to the film-directors, producers and film-makers, to support film shootings in Georgia. The decision about the so called ‘’Cash Rebate’’ has been made meaning payback of a certain percentage of money spent on film shootings in Georgia. This is undoubtedly a success story and an opportunity to make Georgia attractive as a new space for the for the film industry in the world. One more important step the Ministry takes is the development of the cultural infrastructure. In this field the Ministry has initiated large-scale projects. Namely, ten most endangered and most important cultural infrastructures were identified  including The building of the Academy of Fine Arts, Puppet Theatre, Shota Rustaveli Theatre; rehabilitation project of Mutso, Dartlo and Chazhashi villages are drafted, as well as the program to save Vardzia, the medieval cave-town.

Money or Creativity

Culture is the field where creative people are involved with the creative way of thinking. I think one of the reasons of our success is this creativity. Though, eventually everything needs financial support, but in case of the right vision maximum can be achieved with the minimum of resources.

What will be useful for others as well

I know from my colleagues that all the Eastern Partnership countries are facing the similar challenges. All the ministries need to understand what their mission is, and accordingly optimize their resources. We frequently cooperate with them to implement different projects, as our experience is very important for them. I am also aware that the Eastern Partnership countries appreciate our museum system which the National Museum should be credited for.

Collaboration prospects

Georgia has an ambition to be a regional centre not only based on our Geographical and political location but it traditions as well. Therefore, we offer our European friends and partners to use our space for different important events. We have lots of ideas in this respect and we are working for their implementation. For example, we would like to establish a tradition of exchange programs and summer schools. This will give the opportunities to the younger generation to get acquainted with each other's cultures. We also would like to establish a yearly cultural forum with participation of Eastern European partnership countries; exhibitions will be held, discussions and debates arranged; people and organisations contributing greatly to supporting culture will be awarded. Besides, the products created with the help of cultural projects will be marketed. We do have the ambition and ability to offer the kind of events that will not only be aimed at promotion of Georgia but will aim at bringing Eastern European partnership closer.

2018 seen from present day's vantage point

In 2018 the most important event of the country's cultural life will be the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Georgia will be the honorary guest. Georgia is spending huge ressources to properly present our literature to Europe and we are confident our voice will be heard and Georgia will take its well-deserved place in the cultural family.

The funding for culture is never sufficient no matter how well developed the country is; culture always needs more support. This rings particularly true about Eastern Partnership countries. Georgia needs additional support in order to enhance the skills of the people involved in the cultural life.   

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