The Law on Art Workers and Art Unions regulates relations between artists’ unions and the government, provides governmental subsidies for support of those organisations as legal entities under public law and guarantees their participation in the development of cultural programmes and decision-making. However, it was only until 2000 (prior to the Rose Revolution) that the state budget of Georgia assigned governmental funding to the main cultural unions of national significance – the Artists’ Union, Writers’ Union, Composers’ Union, Theatre Workers’ Unions. From 2001 until 2003, governmental funding was assigned to the Writers Union only and, since 2004, state subsidies to arts unions have been stopped.
However, the state and municipalities support associations and organisations indirectly by financing events, festivals and exhibitions which are arranged by the unions.
Georgian art unions are:
- Artists’ Union of Georgia;
- Designers’ Union of Georgia;
- Writers’ Union of Georgia;
- Composers’ Union of Georgia;
- Architects’ Union of Georgia;
- Union of Cinema Workers of Georgia; and
- Union of Theatre Workers of Georgia.
After the Rose Revolution the art unions, which represented a rather powerful authority in the Soviet period, found themselves almost on the level of newly established NGOs, though they still obtain some capital and human resources to maintain and rehabilitate their function of support to artists. Legislative amendments have enabled this once powerful ideological structure to change in order to meet the needs of the contemporary free community. However, these unions need some indirect but effective measures for state support and, through the unions, for support of artists.
Under Georgian law, art unions are trade associations, with the status of a legal entity under the public law, which unite at least 5 art workers in literature or art.
The entrepreneurship aimed at profit-gaining in concrete cases specified by the law (Law on Non-profit Organisations) may be of subsidiary character for support of the activity of non-profit organisations. However, this provision is idle and creative unions suffer the financial crisis.
The legislation in this sphere is adequate however there are some problems in the execution of the acts of legislation and their administration. The Tax Code provides no benefits for art unions.
Recently, Georgian real estate has become the object of active interest from investors. This interest has led the state to sell the assets of some creative unions. In spite of their protests and attempts to restitute their property through the court, the unions are not winning. One example is sale, by the Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia, of the holiday home for composers located in the resort-city Borjomi (reported by news agency Reuters), with a starting price of 4.5 million USD.