Currently, state financial support and volumes of film-making are increasing, although the sector still has many challenges.
4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts
In 2004, a Concept on Art Education, developed by the Ministry of Culture, was accepted by the government of Armenia. It comprises the following main principles:
To bring this concept to life, a complex programme for preparation and training of professionals in the art and culture spheres was developed and approved by the Government of RA on 14 January 2010.
State policy in the art education sphere is being developed and implemented by two main agencies, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science. It is aimed at improvement of the legal environment for development of art education and creation of facilities for the growth of talented children and youth creativity.
In 2008, a Foundation for Support of Art Education was established.
One of the important parts of art education policy is publication of art books and music pieces of Armenian composers (70 have been published).
Currently, the state policy development process is focused on the following tasks and unresolved issues:
The visual arts include painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography. There are more than 1 000 professionals in the sphere of visual arts in Armenia. After the collapse of the Soviet system of state protectionism of arts, many artists and artisans found themselves in a rather difficult situation being bereft of state support and unfamiliar with the new ways of marketing their art. "Marketisation" of art resulted in drastic changes for the whole sphere. A comparatively favourable situation was created for artisanry and handicrafts which quickly found their niche in the tourism consumption market. The most negative impact was imposed by the rupture of all old links and connections of institutions and individuals representing the Armenian Art with their foreign colleagues and counterparts, caused by the lack of financial capacities and lack of higher professionals. Armenian artists lost their privileged status and state support. Currently, arts are promoted and marketed through private galleries (10) and interested individuals, which nevertheless have rather limited capacities. In the absence of targeted state support in technical, financial and other issues, very few of the Armenian artists are able to reach international recognition, though many of them are really talented and deserve to be represented at the highest levels of the international art market. Another issue is preservation and continuity of the Armenian traditions of visual art from the Middle-Ages, and 19-20th centuries. The State Strategy plan for 2007-2011 in the sphere of visual arts was focused on the following issues:
In 2008-2009, a number of policies and procedures were established in support of proportional development of all types of arts, which emphasised support of young artists.
The main policy trends in the sphere of music developed in a framework of the general strategy 2007-2011 are as follows:
Theatre and performances
There are 34 theatres in Armenia, 21 of which are state managed and operated under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture; 3 belong to the Yerevan municipality; 2 are of regional subordination; 7 are supported by municipalities; and 6 belong to other organisations.
Theatres in Armenia are only able to cover 15-25% of their expenses. The rest is obtained from state, municipal or other sources. Currently, theatres are in a rather critical institutional situation and so far, there are no real solutions. Theatres are not self-sustainable and will not become so the near future. In the absence of any mechanisms of critique and other feedback from society, theatres seem to have lost their vivid connection with the audience. Besides, most regional populations have no access to theatres in their areas. Within the framework of Culture Development Strategy for 2007-2011 the following tasks are prioritised for theatres in Armenia:
In view of these tasks, the Ministry of Culture of RA has worked out some principles of theatre related policy development:
Within the strategy of development for theatres for 2007-2011 the government of Armenia also prioritises the improvement of technical facilities (renovation of theatres, providing them with contemporary technical facilities, etc); decentralisation of access to theatres (organisations of theatre programmes in regions, regional festivals and competitions); and support for group and individual creativity through grants and individual support programmes. Particular attention is drawn to the improvement of the legal field relating to theatre development. The draft Law on Theatres was prepared and submitted to the National Assembly in 2010. Other priorities are more active involvement of youth in the creativity processes and creation of more competitive art production. The overall number of state-supported theatrical productions is increasing annually. In 2011, 20 performances and theatre projects were supported.
Particular attention is paid to seeking more opportunities for creativeness, international exchange of ideas and skills, partnership projects and promotion of theatre art through the organisation of festivals and other events. Some festivals have already become periodical and internationally recognised ("Highfest", "Pomegranate seed", "Shakespeare festival", "Armmono").
In Armenia, currently there are four state-governed cinema related institutions - the National Cinema Centre of Armenia, "Hayk" Film Studio, Armenian Public TV 1 and the Armenian National Cinema Centre, and nine independent film studios ("Haifilm" (Armenfilm) film studio, "Aysor Plus Film Productions", Armenia film studios CJSC, Bars Media Documentary Film Studio, Paradise Ltd, Sharm Holding, Karen Gevorgyan Studio, Internews Armenia, KassArt Studio). However, the cinematography sphere is mostly unself-sustainable in Armenia and there is still a strong need for state support. Therefore appropriate policies have been developed to support and stimulate cinematography development in Armenia for 2007-2011. One of the ways in which this is done is to encourage the film industry and art by the organisation of film and animation festivals ("Golden Apricot", "I am", "Kin", "Kinoashun", "Animania"), which promote Armenian and foreign cinematography. Another way is to make Armenia attractive for foreign film production through the creation of an appropriate business environment, professional resources and infrastructures.
The Armenian film-making industry still strongly relies on state support. Film-making and distribution / screening have significantly changed since the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then the industry has been privatised and has drastically reduced its capacity. Within the period 1991-2006, only about 30 live-action movies were made in Armenia. Some of these films were presented at festivals and were even awarded prizes, but almost none reached an Armenian audience. Currently, state financial support and volumes of film-making are increasing. Thus, in 2011, 9 full-length, 5 short-length, 5 animation and 14 documentary films were shot in Armenia.
Therefore, the policy development process in the cinematography sphere is based on the following principles:
During recent two years, 10 films have been supported by the state and this figure is going to increase.
Cinema theatres recently became a subject of public debate. Privatisation of cinema theatres and poor strategic thinking by state officials responsible for cultural issues have resulted in a situation where only two cinema theatres are currently operating in Yerevan (one of them was reopened just recently, in 2012) and one in Gyumri, the second city of Armenia. The seriousness of the problem was magnified in the summers of 2011 and 2012 when the lack of venues jeopardised the success of the "Golden Apricot" annual film festival. Organisers of the festival activities publicised the issue and called on the Armenian authorities to find a solution. Due to this, the second cinema hall "Nairi" was rented back by the National Cinema Centre of Armenia and transformed into a National Cinema Centre. However, this cannot be considered a final solution to the problem and further development of appropriate policies and government intermediation are expected.
Another issue of public discussions and discontent is insufficient support provided to the young generation of cinematographers. Protectionism and nepotism, obsolete structures of Unions, unequal distribution of financial resources and the poorly developed market of the elitist cultural production all hinder the development of the film-making sphere and challenge cultural policy makers in Armenia.