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Georgia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels

In general, society in Georgia is concerned with the state of the cultural heritage and the ethical issues are considered mainly in this context. As an example, we can provide an ambiguous attitude to the art works of the Soviet époque: the monuments, bas-reliefs and sometimes whole buildings have been destroyed because of the ideological aspect but not because they had no historical value. Many prominent works which had historical value were not kept in the museums after dissembling, but were destroyed instead. Mass debates are held on the theme of restoration of the cultural heritage, especially of the integrity and preservation of historical parts of Tbilisi, Batumi, Sighnaghi, and Kutaisi (Programme for Preservation of Historic Cities and Towns). The main problem is the political state of affairs of those programmes, distribution of budgetary funds, quality of executed works (both conceptual-intellectual and material-technical) as well as the ethical nature of the process of the inappropriate "restoration" of monuments and their function detrimental to their identity (e.g. the Bagrath's Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Georgia) (C 710). WHC10/34.COM/7B.Add – gv. 149-154 ix.:

Such issues are dealt by professional organisations: the ICOMOS National Committee, the International Centre of Culture and Arts, AIRL, G. Chubinashvili Institute of Art History, Modern Group, etc. Several public organisations, such as Tbilisi Amkari, respond actively to any architectural changes in Tbilisi (they hold protest meetings, TV debates and mass media activities).

Such debates are mainly supported by foreign foundations (Boell's Fund, British Council) and arranged by professional NGOs. One of the important events was the International Conference IDENTITY AND SPIRIT OF OLD TBILISI (4-6 June 2010)

Georgia has a strong non-governmental sector in the human rights sphere (Young Lawyers Association, Former Political Prisoners' Union and so on). However, the human rights in the culture sphere have not yet become an important part of the public debates. For example: in 2001, there was an attempt to create a large union-coalition NGO: "The Cultural Front", which would elaborate and introduce an Ethical Code in the sphere of cultural activity, copyright protection, relations of a free-lance artist with an employer etc. In spite of the great enthusiasm of the founders, the coalition was not well organised. The same may be said about trade unions in the sphere of culture - three of them were founded in the post-soviet period and two still exist formally - but they have no actual results to show for their activities. An example of an effective group is the Georgian Authors' Union, which carries out the legal activity in copyright protection.

Local authorities lacking legislative and financial levers for implementation of their own cultural policy instead implement the cultural policy of the national government.

To further the centralisation of culture management in the regions, so called centres of culture (with the legal status of LEPL) were created. Institutions of culture (theatres, clubs, museums, libraries, centres and houses of culture, art and music schools) subordinate to the local administrations and self-governments are united in the so called centres of culture – the umbrella organisations with specific status and state-municipal financing.

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection promote initiatives in cultural animation in the regions in the framework of the culture support programme; the programme provides support for traditional folk holidays, restoration and popularisation of national holidays, and promotion of tourism.

Against the common grave social background and following the disorganisation of the old soviet infrastructure, it is very important to support the centres of culture of the regions.

Chapter published: 26-01-2016

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