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Georgia/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

During recent years cultural policy in Georgia has been influenced by the availability of financial and administrative resources. The main objective of cultural policy (before 2004) was the maintenance and support of a centralised system. The creation of a decentralised model and the redistribution of powers were supported only on a declarative level.

A systematic change in cultural policy can be seen at the end of 2003. Government priorities shifted and were focused on institutional reform, protection of cultural heritage and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the sphere of culture. Plans to optimise the public cultural network resulted in restructuring and down-sizing, and a reorganisation of public institutions of culture into other forms of ownership.

In practical terms, the current institutional reform has led to changes in legislation (see chapter 5) which resulted in a strengthening of the centralised system, extension of structures and their unification, instead of diversification. The policy of state control has been reinforced, however, the problem of distinct delimitation of the authorities, typical for Georgia in the last 25 years, has not been solved yet (there are some facts of unlawful parallelism of functions of executive authority at the national and local levels). This is a result of the inexplicit functions of these structures or from the contradictions between the performance of the legislative and executive powers.

In the post-revolutionary period (since 2004), experiments with entrepreneurism and total privatisation of the cultural industries began. However, against the background of modified legislation and the institutional model of centralisation, the cultural policy pursued did not provide a systematic capital inflow, but was focused on the "blind" application of market logic to the culture sphere. This strategy failed, both in terms of investor interest and in terms of development of institutions and infrastructure.

Until 2010, the idea that art and culture should serve economic growth, contribute to an increase in exports and employment, and that culture should be devoted to the positive development of the state and its image, was not very popular. Therefore, there are inconsistencies between attempts to implement the business model and its centralisation excluding such attempts in principle.

At the same time some of the sub-strategic policy lines have been successful:

  • Protection of cultural heritage has seen much increased public and private funding to the development of institutions responsible for the protection of monuments.
  • Studies focused on the issues of restoration and conservation, and archaeology and palaeontology. Supported by the Ministry of Education and Science.
  • Cultural animation as an instrument for providing cultural democracy through participation of a large number of viewers in various social activities has gained force, especially in the post-war period (since 2008).
  • Dissemination of culture associated with the super-communicative ability of modern culture, with digital technology, the redistribution of cultural products, with the development of "creative industries", has had increasing governmental support.
  • Art created by modern artists is not currently successful. This sphere is relatively consistently supported by the state,but this is an area of cultural policy where elements of paternalism are noticeable. Support for cultural education is poorly supported. In general, the policy of cultural education developed by the influential Ministry of Science and Education is implemented according to the formal aspect of the Bologna Process and does not take into account its ability to make correlations with the tradition of creative education in Georgia.

The coalition "Georgian Dream" which has won the parliamentary elections in October 2012 has formed the new cabinet of ministers. Respectively, the new leadership of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection has started to develop a new strategy and new concept of cultural policy.

The priorities of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia in 2013-2014 were:

  • Georgian cultural identity preservation, protection and development of tangible and intangible cultural heritage;
  • supporting the creation and restoration of cultural centres in the regions of Georgia; the use of culture as a driving force for regional development; involvement of the regions of Georgia in international cultural life;
  • supporting the development of modern art, conducting intercultural dialogue to promote Georgian culture and to involve Georgian artists in the international art space;
  • promoting arts education in the capital and regions;
  • implementation of cultural projects in the conflict regions in the process of confidence building;
  • promoting the creation of a favourable legal environment for successful cooperation between the public and private sectors, provision of additional sources to support the cultural industries;
  • promoting the development of the creative industries (cultural tourism, cinema, design, fashion, crafts...);
  • active engagement of national minorities living in Georgia in public life through the promotion of cultural diversity;
  • providing access by socially vulnerable people to various fields of culture; and
  • promoting the involvement of Georgian communities outside Georgia in the country's cultural life.

In 2016 the strategic document Culture Strategy 2025 was adopted (SEE Chapter 2.3. Cultural policy objectives)კულტურის-სტრატეგიია.aspx?lang=en-US

The document includes the following sections:

  • Chapter I: Vision and Mission;
  • Chapter II: Strategic Goals (8 goals);
  • Chapter III: Sector-specific Tasks
  • Chapter IV: Strategy Implementation: 1. Monitoring and Evaluation, 2. Risk Analysis;
  • Annex No.1 – Glossary;
  • Annex No. 2 – Strategy Elaboration and Methodology

(Note: The principle of classification and the order of tasks has caused discussions in a professional community, as has the division of the structure of the strategic document).

The formulation of the Strategic Goals and the sub-goals therein is of an integrative nature, which is an obvious innovation in the practice of the cultural policy of Georgia.

´Chapter II: Strategic Goals

1. Awareness Raising and Education

Goal: Culture and creativity is integrated across all levels of the education system and the public is aware of its importance.

1.1. Objective: Policymakers, cultural professionals, key stakeholders, representatives of other sectors and the general public fully acknowledge the importance of culture and creativity and its role in the country’s sustainable development and social well-being.

1.2. Objective: Culture and creativity constitute an integral part of formal pre-school, general and of nonformal education. They develop creative skills and enhance interest towards culture among children and youth.

1.3. Objective: Higher and vocational educational institutions produce highly qualified professionals for culture and other related fields, create interdisciplinary programmes for students studying culture, technologies, business and other areas and develop academic research in collaboration with research institutions.

1.4. Objective: Professional training and life-long learning programmes fully meet the requirements of the contemporary labour market and contribute to the increasing competitiveness of cultural professionals.

2. Access to Culture and Cultural Diversity

Goal: Culture is accessible to all members of the society and the freedom of cultural expression is safeguarded.

2.1. Objective: Culture is made accessible to all, including the communities in mountainous regions, municipalities adjacent to the state borders, occupied territories and across the dividing lines of occupied territories.

2.2. Objective: All members of the society, including vulnerable groups, youth and minorities are actively engaged in cultural life and have access to cultural infrastructure and resources.

2.3. Objective: The Georgian diaspora actively participates in the country’s cultural life and their cultural identity is preserved.

2.4. Objective: Cultural diversity, freedom of expression of different cultures and their interaction empowers the state and contributes to the society’s development.

2. Culture and Other Key Areas

Goal: Culture and creativity help other key areas, contribute in a wider sense to the State’s sustainable development and social well-being.

3.1  Objective: Culture is integrated into the development policies of different sectors, different government agencies and municipalities based on regular consultations between the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and other important agencies and stakeholders.

3.2  Objective: Regular cooperation among cultural professionals, public, civil and private sectors brings about more effective decision-making and problem-solving methods and results in a better quality of life.

3. Funding of Culture

Goal: The sustainability of cultural funding is safeguarded, diverse and transparent funding mechanisms are introduced and employment in the cultural sector is attractive.

4.1. Objective: Culture is funded from all budgetary levels; from diversified sources - innovative funding and stimulation measures are introduced, there is greater motivation for the private sector to allocate funds for culture; funds are distributed transparently and efficiently.

4.2. Objective: The State helps the creation of employment opportunities for the specialists of culture and arts; supports the provision of convenient working conditions for them and, considering the specifics of cultural professions, respectively develops social protection mechanisms.

4. Cultural Infrastructure and New Technologies

Goal: The infrastructure of culture is developed, necessary professional environment is provided and the application of new technologies is ensured.

5.1. Objective: The development and effective management of the cultural infrastructure contributes to producing and disseminating high-quality cultural products and services, preserving cultural properties and improving working environments in accordance with international standards.

6.   Creative Industries

Goal: Creative industries represent an important source for job creation, economic growth and innovation, it is a competitive sphere of activity

6.1. Objective: Creative industries in Georgia have a favourable environment for development, the output of higher quality and competitive products and services is increased.

6.2. Objective: The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and related rights contributes to the development of creative industries in a competitive and fair environment.

7.   Internationalisation of Culture

Goal: Georgia is an active participant of international cultural processes; it is a subject of interest for the rest of the world with its rich cultural heritage, vibrant cultural life and arts.

7.1. Objective: The internationalisation of the cultural sector helps the development of culture, increases the nation’s export capacity and empowers its image.

8. Principles of the Governance of Culture

Goal: Cultural policy is evidence-based and professionals and the general public participate in an open and transparent policy-making process.

8.1. Objective: Elaboration and implementation of the cultural policy is guided by the principles of Good Governance.

8.2. Objective: Research data and statistics related to culture, its quality and accessibility lay foundations of the cultural policy.´

Specific tasks (Chapter III: Sector-specific Tasks) are based on traditional forms of art and culture. This section of the document was based only on those expert opinions that were collected by the Ministry in the process of developing the Strategy (no strategies and full-scale research on the forms of art had been available). Accordingly, the need for scientific, statistical research for the development of sub-strategies for each form of culture was declared.

Chapter III: Sector-specific Tasks

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Cultural Tourism
  • Libraries and Archives
  • Museums
  • Traditional Crafts
  • Architecture
  • Audiovisual sector
  • Design
  • Literature and Publishing
  • Music
  • Performing arts
  • Visual arts
  • Media and Broadcasting

The development of sub-strategies began with the implementation of the 2017-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the Culture Strategy (SEE 2.3 Cultural Policy Objectives).

Chapter published: 13-02-2019

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