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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.


Civil Society of Georgia

An important component of cultural self-expression is the active and professional vision, activity and assessment by the NGO sector. Nevertheless, the Georgian NGO sector in the filed of culture is facing challenges that have already been overcome by nongovernmental organizations working in other spheres.

•           The legislative environment of non-profit organizations is quite liberal and does not inhibit the creation
            and functioning of civil society organizations.

•           The applicable legislation of Georgia does not fully comply with the international standards and best
            practices. Significant problems are in terms of supporting the development of the NGO sector.

The general legislation that regulates CSO’s activities:

  • Constitution of Georgia, 24/08/1995 – The Constitution of Georgia guarantees the right of free association. The Constitution guarantees the right of a person to create or unify into a public association, including trade union; suspension and prohibition of public association activities can only be made in the cases specified by the Organic Law only under the Court order;
  • Organic Law “On Suspension and Prohibition of Activities of Public Unions” 14/11/1997/1103 / determines the issues of suspension and prohibition of activities of these associations;
  • The Civil Code of Georgia, 1997 (substantially amended in 2006). The Civil Code defines organizational and legal form and registration procedures of public organizations; the issues related to registration of certain types of public organizations are regulated by special laws;
  • Law of Georgia on Grants; June 28, 1996 N 331 - IIs (12.07.2013 N 819); The law regulates the legal grounds of issue and receipt of main source of funding of CSOs – the grant.
  • Law on State Support for Children and Youth Organizations, 15/02/2001/5/ - The law distinguishes children and youth organizations, provides relevant definitions and creates a list of such organizations subject to the state support.
  • Law on Artists and Art Unions, 08/06/1999/2059/ determines the rules for the creation and operation of creative ties;
  • The Tax Code, 2004 determines the mechanisms of taxation of the activities carried out by the civil organizations as well as granting the status of a charitable organization. Since CSOs are not restricted to carrying out the type of activity (including entrepreneurial activities), other legislation of Georgia is also applied to them. For example, if civil organizations implement the activity subject to licensing the licensing legislation shall be applied.
  • Law on Registration Fee 24/06/2004 defines the amount of state registration fee for public organizations;
  • The General Administrative Code 25/06/1999 - determines the mechanisms for relations with administrative bodies. It is an important instrument in the implementation of monitoring type activities for CSOs;
  • Law on State Procurement, 19/07/2010, LH, 39, defines legal, organizational and economic principles of procurement and enables public organizations to participate in state procurement;

Policy and strategic documents

  •       The Georgia Cultural Strategy document “Cultural Strategy 2025” provides the issues of cooperation
          with the civil sector; in particular, Section II, Chapter 3, Objective 3.2 provides as follows: “As a result of
          regular cooperation between the artists, the state, civil and private sectors, the effective decision-making
          and problem-solving methods have been introduced and quality of life improved”.
  •       “Cultural Strategy 2025”, Section II, Chapter 1 “Raising awareness and education”, Chapter 2 “Access
          to Culture and Cultural Diversity”, Chapter 3 “Relationship with Culture and Other Fields”, refer to the
          cooperation with the civil sector.
  •       The Cultural Action Plan for the 2017-2018 does not specifically describe the projects for creation and
          distribution of cultural goods and services by the non-governmental sectors, in the line of culture public
          awareness campaign, as well as for promotion of arts and diversity of cultural expressions, and/or their
  •       The 2015 Memorandum has institutionalized the civil society participation in the field of culture and  
          creation of the policies set out by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection to promote, create,
          distribute and access to the cultural goods and services.

Institutional development

  •       There is a wide range of civil society organizations on the background of the satisfactorily developed 
          legislative base that support the civil society in Georgia. In addition, the non-governmental cultural sector 
          is lacking financial resources that hinders its institutional development.

  •       In the broad range of Georgian public organizations, the share of nongovernmental sector in the field of 
          culture is rather small, generally due to the low level of financing of culture, non-diversified sources, and 
          as a result, dependence on the financial support of the state.

  •       In most cases, only the state and the governmental support may guarantee financial sustainability; 
          consequently, the civil sector is passive and is in a holding pattern and lacking the initiative;

  •      The necessity of dependence on the state is due to the institutional underdevelopment of culture NGOs; 
         on the background of a stable fall in the international funding of culture in case of termination of the
         state financing, some organizations have been abolished or reorganized.

Qualification and expert methods

•           The majority of qualified managers and experts in the field of culture are represented in the
            nongovernmental sector; because of the underdevelopment of this sphere, most of the professionals
            are also employed with the state structures; in addition, they conduct monitoring, advocacy and expertise
            on behalf of NGOs.

Raising awareness

•           The society, especially in regions, is provided with information about the international obligations taken
            by the state in the sphere of cultural self-expression, by the NGO representatives, namely, the members
            of the nongovernmental coalition “Diverse Georgia”.


  •       The NGO sector in the culture filed does not have the appropriate infrastructure. Most of the
          organizations can rent offices, studios and so on, only in the frames of projects.

Cultural NGOs do not have targeted infrastructure support from the state.

There are no monitoring projects, assessment documents, and debates on the culture sector.

Promotion scope/Programs/Events

  •       The “Cultural Strategy 2025” includes general issues regarding cooperation with NGOs; however, the
          state in addition to the programs supporting thematic competitions and free projects, does not make
          adequate steps in the direction of creating the necessary environment for institutional development of
          the NGO sector. This is especially related to the lack of proper regulation of benefits and financing
          diversification issues.

State structures that have relevant programs and provide financial assistance to civil society organizations to implement projects in the field of culture, are:

  •       Ministry of Education and Science
  •       Ministry of Culture and Sport

The Ministries do not provide financial assistance to NGOs in the form of grants, but as service procurements.

State organizations issuing grants

Examples of good practice - Partnerships

Development of the policy document “Cultural Strategy 2025” together with the non-governmental sector (the practice of cooperation of 36 NGOs with the Ministry in the format of the Memorandum and Questionnaire). Protocols of work sessions:           

Various documents

Documents developed by different groups of the society on culture policy prior to the development of “Cultural Strategy 2025”:

  • The package of recommendations developed by the non-governmental coalition “Diverse Georgia” to implement the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expression``, Tbilisi, 2015. Project by YTA Union.
  • ``Pilot Scheme for Monitoring Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions`` Tbilisi, 2017. Project by YTA Union.

Chapter published: 12-02-2019

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