3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
The Department of International Relations at the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport 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.
As an example of such cooperation – in the framework of the Participation Programme for 2007-2008 - seven projects are financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia in the total amount of 120 000 USD. In addition, two large projects are in the process of implementation under the aegis of UNESCO:
Important features of the Foreign Policy Strategy of Georgia for 2009-2012, in particular, the 6th priority, are:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is intensifying its activities in the sphere of culture (see: http://www.mfa.gov.ge/).
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.
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.
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:
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, Monument Protection and Sport 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. Within the framework of the project STAGE, a group of librarians and 9 young musicians attended training courses in Frankfurt in 2005 (3 musicians in 2006).
Traditionally, the state has not made a big contribution to the organising of international projects. However, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection has succeeded to arrange a number of large international events in the period 1996-2003, such as:
Since 2003, the state has increased the financing of international events gradually and large-scale projects have become a high priority:
However, in 2006 this trend was suspended.
According to the data of the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia, the sum allocated for foreign cultural cooperation in 2006 was 327 000 GEL, or 0.6% of the Ministry's budget (51 177 100 GEL). This figure decreased 7.5 times in comparison with 2005 (2 482 370 GEL). Some financing of international cultural cooperation was provided by national private companies and funds (no exact data is available).
Since 2007, one-off projects have been combined with regular long-term programmes and the support for international cultural cooperation from the state has been increased.
The President's Administration also participates actively in the planning and co-financing of international cultural activities, including an allocation of GEL 150 182 towards the opening of Georgia's Year in Ukraine in 2005 and the Tbilisi Culture Days in Istanbul (2006).
In 2005, with the co-financing of the Presidential and Government's Reserve Funds of Georgia, the following activities were organised:
The total amount of funds allocated for such international events was 2 482 370 GEL, including 120 000 GEL of the estimated budget of the State Programme for the Support of Foreign Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia.
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 Monuments.
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:
International project support was also offered by the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia under its programme "International Cultural Cooperation Support Activities", totalling 379 277 GEL (158 032 EUR) in 2007. In the framework of this programme, the following projects were funded:
Promotion of Georgian culture worldwide and forging ties with leading international scholarly institutions are among the top priorities of the Ministry of Culture and Monuments in the sphere of cultural heritage. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2007 between the Ministry and the Max Plank Institute of Florence, which is one of the most respected institutions of this kind, to enhance cooperation in restoration and conservation matters.
Within the framework of the Memorandum, an international seminar dedicated to Georgian art was held between 30 September and 7 October, with the participation of the representatives of the Max Plank Institute (M. Angar, M. Bacci, B. Fricke, A. Forman, W. Kemp, E. Maayan-Fanar, D. Maayan, K. Müller, B. Schellewald and G. Wolf) and the Giorgi Chubinashvili National Research Centre of Georgian Art History and Monument Preservation.
In 2008, the state continued to provide financial support for international cultural cooperation through the reserve funds of the President and Government of Georgia. Together with funds from the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia, it provided co-financing for the programme "Georgian Seasons" http://www.georgianseason.ge (2 000 000GEL). International project support was also offered by the Ministry under its programme "International Cultural Cooperation Support Activities", totalling 379 277 GEL (158 032 EUR) in 2007, 250 000 GEL (119 425 EUR) in 2008 and 200 000 GEL (80 000 EUR) in 2009.
It should be mentioned that the share of presidential and governmental reserve funds in the programme "Georgian Seasons" has been increasing while in the programme of international cultural cooperation and support of the work of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection has been decreasing.
In 2008, in connection with the Georgian-Russian military conflict, the budget was modified and the assignment for culture was reduced. However, in 2009, in spite of the world financial crisis, in the framework of the programme "Georgian Seasons", (http://mcs.gov.ge/georgianseason/?lang=eng) the following events were financed:
In 2010, in the framework of the programme "Georgian Seasons", the following events were financed (http://mcs.gov.ge/georgianseason/?lang=eng):
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.
Examples of projects in the fields of education and culture are:
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, such as the International Symposium of Georgian Arts, held in June 2008; and The Cultural Heritage of Georgia - Abkhazeti and Shida Kartli, February 2009, Tbilisi. Other important events were Georgia on the Crossroads of European and Asian Cultures, November 2009, Florence, Italy; and Georgian Culture-Past and Present April 2007, USA (see chapter 3.4.4, chapter 4.2.6 and chapter 4.2.9).