COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Georgia/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The Department of International Relations at the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection is responsible for international cultural cooperation. The issues of cultural heritage, in the context of international cultural cooperation, are mainly addressed by the Department of Cultural Heritage and, in the context of UNESCO programmes, within the remit of the National Committee of UNESCO (see chapter 3.4.3).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has a responsibility for international cultural cooperation which is administered by its Department for Foreign Economic and Humanitarian Relations. This Department is responsible for some aspects of cultural policy and the protection of Georgian cultural heritage abroad.

Important features of the Foreign Policy Strategy of Georgia for 2009-2012, in particular, the 6th priority, are:

  • the security environment for Georgia;
  • a safe, democratic and developed state;
  • Georgia in the international systems;
  • Georgia in the region and in the world;
  • citizens of Georgia and Georgian diasporas abroad (see chapter 3.4.6); and
  • promotion of Georgia;

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is intensifying its activities in the sphere of culture (see: http://www.mfa.gov.ge/).

Following parliamentary elections on 21 May 2008, a new position of State Minister for Georgian Diasporas was created, with a budget of 888 400 GEL; which is a new actor in the field of international cultural relations. The State Minister for Georgian Diaspora is responsible for sustaining relations with the compatriots abroad, for cultural contacts with the diaspora and support of Georgian culture abroad.

On the municipal level, there are examples of international agreements between cities and regions, e.g. between the Culture Service of Tbilisi Municipality and respective services of Moscow (2000), Kiev (2001), Didim (2001), Yerevan (2003), Rome (2004) and Florence (2004).

The main instruments in international cultural relations are:

  • the framework of the interstate agreements and bilateral agreements on cooperation between the ministries (e.g. the agreement between the Ministry of Culture of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs of Armenia in 1999 and the Ministry of Culture of Georgia with the Georgian Cultural and Tourist and Trade Centre in Japan in 2000);
  • agreements between the departments and the respective partner organisations in the sphere of culture; and
  • agreements on joint projects between the cultural institutions (e.g. cooperation between the Mtskheta Archeological Museum-Reserve and the Travel Agency of Dublin (Ireland's tourism promotion board). Source: Ministry of Culture of Georgia.).

There are several examples of transnational cooperation in culture, education and science but, so far, there are few examples of trans-national cooperation in cultural education and training. For some years, such cooperation has been initiated by international organisations or by governmental programmes of countries that have a close relationship with Georgia e.g. Italy.

Each year, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection provides travel grants for young artists to attend international competitions or training courses etc. It also co-finances a grant for a competition with the government of Italy – the Rome Award.

Traditionally, the state has not made a big contribution to the organising of international projects.

Since 2007, the "Georgian Seasons" programme has been organised and is financed from the presidential and governmental reserve funds at the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection.

The state undertakes liability for the regular participation in such prestigious international events as the Venice Biennale, Prague International Festival, Frankfurt Book Fair, Berlinale, Istanbul Biennale, Edinburg Festival and others.

In the framework of the programme, exhibitions and concerts are organised in Europe and the USA such as:

  • Enamel Cloisonné from the Country of Golden Fleece – Exhibition Strasbourg. Council of Europe;
  • Exposition of Gold Fund of Georgia "Medias' Gold" (New Discoveries from Georgia in Berlin, Nice, Paris, Washington);
  • Ancient Georgia at the crossroads of Europe and Asia (Jewelry and History Exhibitions in Brussels);
  • Niko Pirosmani – Exposition of the National Museum of Georgia, Istanbul;
  • Symphonic Music Concert. Soloists: Eliso Bolkvadze (piano) and Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Paris;
  • Georgian State Ensemble of Folk Singing and Dancing "Erisioni" Concert, Paris;
  • Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili Academic National Ballet Troupe Concert in Spain; and
  • Fund "Iavnana" - Gala Concert Madrid, Paris.

In 2010, in the framework of the programme "Georgian Seasons", the following events were financed (http://mcs.gov.ge/georgianseason/?lang=eng):

  • Georgian Culture Days in Oslo;
  • 3rd Cannes Film Festival;
  • Conference at Columbia University- Modernism in Georgia;
  • Georgian Gallery in Madrid;
  • 9 international prizes to Georgian Macbeth, (V. Abashidze Musical Comedy and Drama Theatre)- 17th Small Stage International Theatre Festival was held in Rieca, Croatia;
  • Kremerata Baltica orchestra, led by Gidon Kremer, visited Georgia and gave a concert at Tbilisi State Conservatoire;
  • The Argonauts' Gold;
  • The sculpture of Shota Rustaveli was placed at Villa Borghese in Rome. The bust was erected on 9 April 2010 at Homeros street in front of the Gallery of Modern Art; and
  • Georgian Cultural Days in Egypt.

In 2012, the main activities implemented by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia in the framework of the international programme were:

  • The International festival "Chveneburebi";
  • The Georgian culture days in Madrid (Spain) (with participation of LEPL National Academic Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of Georgia "Rustavi");
  • Participation of the Georgian Association of Book Editors and Distributors at the International Leipzig Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany;
  • Black Sea Jazz Festival in Batumi, Georgia;
  • The anniversary gala-concert devoted to the 30 years on stage of the artistic director of National Ballet Ensemble of LEPL Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre with participation of the world ballet stars;
  • Swiss-Cuscus Festival "Convergence" at Tbilisi V. Sarajishvili State Conservatoire;
  • Georgian winemaking documentary for UNESCO programme;
  • Photo festival "KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO";
  • Tbilisi International Photo Festival "Tbilisi Photo Festival 2012";
  • Business trip of Georgian scientists to Palermo, Italy for the research of the materials about Georgia stored at the Vatican Secret Library and other libraries;
  • The Caucasus Jazz Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia;
  • Architect-Inventors Exhibition in London, England;
  • Georgian Culture Days in Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
  • The concert of LEPL Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra at Konzert Begau in Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
  • Participation of the State Shadow Theatre at the 2nd Intrenational Cartoon Festival in the village Nikozi at the occupied Tskhinvali Region territory;
  • Georgian Culture Days in Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
  • Opening of the Georgian House in frames of the London Olympics Games;
  • Charitable concert held by Iavnana Foundation in Paris, France;
  • "Art Gene" Festival of "World Music" artists;
  • International Classic Music Festival in Kutaisi;
  • International Festival "Travelling Notes" in Tbilisi arranged by the Music Arts Support and Development Foundation;
  • In 2012 in the context of the London Summer Olympic Games 2012 the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia arranged the Georgian House where the samples of Georgian cultural heritage and works of Georgian modern artists were presented;
  • in context of the visit of the minister of culture of Ukraine in Georgia on May 29-31, 2012, was drafted the agreement on the film coproduction between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the government of Georgia;
  • March 11-15, 2012 the Swiss Culture Days in Georgia;
  • December 17-21, 2012 the China Culture Days in Georgia. The Chinese theatre "Giansu" presented its performance in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi; and
  • Throughout 2012 various international tours (music, theatrical) have been systematically financed.

International public cultural agencies, institutes and funds also operate in Georgia.

Significant financing and support of international cultural cooperation was implemented through the international funds and institutions, such as the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation), South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich-Boll-Foundation, the British Council Georgia Office, and the Alexander Dumas Centre of French Culture. As there are minimal funds allocated by the state for international cultural relations, the role of the above listed universally recognised cultural agencies and institutes are very important. Each of the listed funds contributes to the development of public participation and cultural diplomacy according to their priorities.

In 2010, the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation) Programme for Culture and Arts was renewed.

Recently the list of Georgian international cultural events has increased. Especially important actions are those activities organised by the Georgian Arts and Cultural Centre.

In 2014, the geography of Georgian international cultural events continued to expand and the number of partners increased.

  • On 23 September 2014 the New York Museum of Modern Art - MoMA, Berkeley Museum of Modern Art and the Pacific Film Archive hosted a large-scale retrospective of Georgian films which represented up to 45 films - beginning from the centuries-old Georgian silent cinema and film classics of the Soviet period, and ending with the latest Georgian films. After New York and Berkeley, 50 Georgian films were shown in Washington and Toronto cinema libraries. The promoters of the retrospective from Georgia were the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the Consulate General of Georgia in New York, the Georgian National Film Centre, the National Archives, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
  • On October 14-19 2014 the first International Documentary Film Festival in the Caucasus "CinéDOC-Tbilisi" was held in Tbilisi, which featured creative documentaries. The festival was promoted by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and the Georgian National Film Centre. The festival hosted about 50 documentary films of Israel, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Portugal, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Denmark and their authors http://www.cinedoc-tbilisi.com/?page_id=373
  • In 2014, the National Museum of Georgia received the Rothschild Foundation research grant. The Foundation-funded project was the first-ever scientific cooperation with Georgia. The Rothschild Foundation allocated the one-year grant for the Georgian National Museum's project "Jewish Cultural Heritage in the Georgian National Museum Collections and the Jewish Museum Renovation in Tbilisi". The grant provides for the full scientific study of Jewish collections and implementation of educational programmes. The project also foresees preparation of collections for permanent exhibition in the restored Jewish Museum.

Chapter published: 26-01-2016

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