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Georgia/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

The development of cultural policy in Georgia over the past 20 years (1990-2012) can be characterised by 4 distinct stages (even though they are unequal in duration and character):

The first stage (1990-1992), was a period of rebuilding an independent Georgian state and was characterised by contradictions and dramatic events. Changes were initiated in the framework of the persisting Soviet style system. The model of cultural policy chosen by the first national government was aimed at creating a separate Georgian policy for culture.

The second stage (1993-2003), can be even further divided into: a) a period of war and devastation (1992-1994) when the entire state policy was aimed at struggling against centrifugal trends and therefore could not pursue a purposeful cultural policy; b) a period of formation of state structures in territories controlled by the state (1995-99) with a neutrally homogenous policy; c) a period (2000-2003) anticipating the foundation of a decentralisation policy.

On the one hand, in 2001 amendments were made to the Law on Local Administration and Self-government (1997) which reinforced decentralisation, and on the other hand the presidential vertical power was still upheld by the "rtsmunebuli" institute. In view of these two conflicting approaches, the cultural policy model which evolved at this time was of a contradictory nature. The extension of independence for municipalities was declared theoretically. Although the state adopted the Law on Local Administration and Self-government, further laws evolving the practicalities of decentralisation were not passed, i.e. Bills on Local and Municipal Property and Budgets. Without these practical laws, the bodies of local administration and self-government found themselves without the appropriate power instruments. Institutional reform in the sphere of culture was not implemented during this period.

The third "revolutionary and post-revolutionary" phase (2003-2005) saw the recentralisation of cultural policy development supported by legislative / constitutional changes and in the extension and unification of infrastructure. This period was characterised by the need for the central government to restore the jurisdiction of the Georgian state over the entire territory of Georgia. The idea that art and culture could assist in economic growth, expansion of exports and employment and reinforce positive factors in the building of the state had not yet become popular. More recently, an entrepreneurial approach has been taken cultural policy (see chapter 4.2.2). This does not mean that operators are to rely solely on private sources of support but rather attempts to apply some market logic to the cultural sector. There are concerns that the privatisation of culture could produce very negative results in the hands of potential unfair investors.

The period from 2008-2012 (from the presidential elections of January 5th 2008) is marked by an intensification of centralised power, a weakening of self-governing institutions, self-censorship of the mass media and, consequently, a growth in the role of the state structures (Ministry of Culture and Cultural Heritage) in financing and administration of cultural policy.

In the period from 2012 to 2018, the cultural policy can be divided into two stages – the period of cohabitation of two political forces (The National Movement vs. Georgian Dream) in 2012-2014 and the period of development of the Culture Strategy in 2015-2017.

  • 2012-2013 - In the first period of the Georgian Dream’s ruling (the cohabitation stage) the cultural policy was homogeneous.
  • From the second half of 2013, the use of expert methods started: in July, the Commission for Development of Culture policy and Strategy was created, which for the first time during the period of Georgian independence developed a concept of cultural policy (although the concept was not officially approved).
  • On March 1st, 2013 the Basic Principles of the Strategy for Decentralization and Development of Self-Government for 2013-2014 were approved, but no decentralization of relevant resources nor management in the field of culture was implemented.

  • On June 17, 2014 the Social-economic Development Strategy “Georgia 2020” was approved. The state strategy did not mention culture, which indicates the lack of relevance cultural policy had at this stage of the Georgian Dream´s ruling.
  • 2015 – A stage of intensive and systematic development of cultural strategy started.
  • 2015-2016 – The use of expert methods was intensified, in order to reflect on three types of activities necessary to set the standard for a new cultural policy, such as:
    • Determination of the cultural values, priorities and goals;
    • Development and implementation of initiatives, actions and financing programs;
    • Policy monitoring.

Before the adoption of the “Culture Strategy 2025”only the second activity was prioritised Despite the annual declaration of priorities and goals by the Ministry of Culture since 2004, systemising values ​​and strategic vision has always been a weakness of the state, and monitoring has not been considered a significant part of the cultural policy.

With this background, under the Decree N 303 of the Government of Georgia, a modern and long-term document stating the Georgian national cultural policy, “Culture Strategy 2025”, was approved on July 1st, 2016 – providing the Georgian state with such a strategic document for the first time in its history.

The strategy is an attempt to select a culture policy model that will aids its systematic and sustainable development. It consists of the following elements:

  • Strategic long-term planning
  • Integrated approaches
  • Mobilizing resources
  • Monitoring
  • Vision based on the balance of the global and local:

Culture Strategy 2025; Chapter I - Vision and Mission

Vision of the Strategy: ´Georgia is a creative country and regional hub where innovation and creativity, along with safeguarding and revitalising national heritage and cultural diversity are the fundamental pillars of social wellbeing and sustainable development.´

The mission of the Government of Georgia: ´is to create a favourable and enriched environment where national heritage and cultural diversity are well-preserved and their potential is fully unleashed, creative businesses are developed and the diversity of cultural life is encouraged.´

Chapter published: 12-02-2019

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