Country reports


Nina Gunia-Kuznetcova & Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport

Last update: June 2022

As a result of the world pandemic, it has become necessary to gradually restrict mass cultural and sports activities in Georgia.

March-July 2020

  • On March 2-4, the education process was suspended in educational institutions, creative activities were suspended and all scheduled events were cancelled in cultural institutions;
  • On March 21, order N1 of the President of Georgia on declaring the state of emergency on the entire territory of Georgia was issued.
  • On March 31 a general quarantine was declared and a curfew was imposed, which remained in effect until May 23.

During the state of emergency, in order to provide access to cultural services for those staying at home, art institutions under the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia have started the mass online campaign #stayathome #cultureforyou. 24 organisations under the Ministry (including museums, theatres, ensembles and other art organisations) have joined the campaign. The cultural heritage direction is also integrated in the campaign #stayathome #cultureforyou (Museums operated through online platforms; For those who wished, virtual tours of artifacts and museums were available; Online access to educational programs of museums was provided, etc.)

On March 30th, the project Tele-school was launched by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports in cooperation with the Georgian television channel First Channel. The project allows all students, regardless of having access to the internet, to follow interesting lessons in all subjects defined by the National Curriculum, among them lessons of fine and applied arts and music.

During the first lockdown, the government of Georgia developed anti-crisis plans to support the economic, financial, agricultural, tourism, health, construction and education sectors. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara developed an anti-crisis plan for 2020, adapted to the new reality and taking into account the health care recommendations, and the respective budget was increased.

Against this background, however, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia did not work on an anti-crisis plan for culture, which was the basis for harsh criticism from the non-state cultural sector.

In May, the government of Georgia adopted regulation N286 of 04/05/2020 “On Approval of State Targeted Program on Harm Reduction from Infection (COVID-19) Caused by New Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2)”.  Based on it, self-employed (persons with small and micro business status) and hired workers (employed in organizations of non-governmental or entrepreneurial sector in paid work), whose right to work had been suspended due to restrictions provided for by the approved Isolation and Quarantine Regulations and who had not received salaries from their employers for this period, were set the following allowances: self-employed – a one-time allowance of 300 GEL, and hired workers – a monthly allowance of 200 GEL for 6 months, for a total of 1200 GEL. (Program budget: 2020 Plan -525,000 GEL).

Thus, the aforementioned allowances were granted only to those persons working in the non-governmental and entrepreneurial cultural sectors who met the above criteria, while freelancers in the cultural sector without such status were totally unprotected and beyond the attention of the state.

June-November 2020

Reopening measures

Museums and museum-reserves began to operate strictly in accordance with regulations on June 20, while the rest of the cultural sector gradually resumed operations since July.

Despite the difficult pandemic situation of 2020, according to the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (the minister’s summing up address of 27.12.2020) “… all public sector jobs in the cultural sector were preserved and the ministry allocated additional resources for the full functioning of the cultural organizations subordinate to the ministry” (Culture Support Program budget :2020 Plan -70,899.0 GEL).

  • Salaries in the theatres and museums in the Ministry’s system have been increased by an average of GEL 100. The Ministry has also retained sectoral competitions and adapted them. 161 cultural organizations and approximately 4,500 artists participated in 16 grant competitions.
  • Planned infrastructure and rehabilitation projects continued. (Program budget :2020 Plan -119,211.4 GEL ;2020 Fact – 128,601.7 GEL)
  • With the support of the Ministry, the Culture for You program held more than 1,000 online cultural events, which took place remotely due to the pandemic; 31 arts festivals in literature, theatre, music, visual arts, film and folklore were held in full compliance with the recommendations. Since July, work has resumed on 49 new productions in public and private professional theatres, which premiered simultaneously with the lifting of restrictions.

Notably, some projects that had won the Ministry’s tenders were cancelled when new restrictions were introduced, causing disruption of plans and disintegration of activities of cultural workers and NGOs.

November 26, 2020 to July 2021

The worsening of the epidemic situation in the autumn led to new restrictions introduced by Government Decree No. 699 of 26 November 2020. The restrictions were partially lifted in March 2021. And the curfew was extended until 1 July 2021 nationwide.

During this second big lockdown, self-employed and salaried workers were again given one-time  and semi-annual allowances as during the first lockdown in 2020. (Program budget: 2021 Plan -271,481.6, GEL).

Due to the government’s neglect of culture, both in society and in Parliament, the idea of creating a separate Ministry of Culture gained strength and support. As a result the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports was divided into two in March 2021.

On June 10 the new Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth (total budget of GEL 2021 Plane – 22,454.0; 2022 Plane – 41,374.0) announced 12 priorities, the last of which was:

Reducing the harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (with a budget of GEL 1 493 002 in 2021):

  • Promotion of contemporary painting, sculpture and installations (with a budget of GEL 700 582)
  • Promotion of musicians, writers and other free artists (with a budget of GEL 592 320)
  • Operational and other necessary expenses of the affected cultural organizations in the ministry’s system. (with a budget of GEL 200 100)

Despite expectations, the methodology of spending on this priority did not differ from the pre-pandemic funding methodology. The budget part of the first and second sub-items was spent on winning projects.

July-September 2021

New restrictions were reintroduced from 19 July and strict enforcement of regulations was introduced from August: festivals, entertainment events, concerts and sports competitions were banned.

October 6, 2021 to December 22, 2021

From 6 October, restrictions were gradually lifted: concerts and festivals were allowed and the cultural sector came into operation.

As part of the universal vaccination, from 1 December it became compulsory to show a “green passport” at hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, opera house, etc.

December 22, 2021 to March 22, 2022

On December 20, a new strain of the Omicron coronavirus was detected in the country.

Despite the spread of Omicron, the mandatory green passport was lifted in Georgia on February 1, 2022 and the restrictions were lifted on February 22.


The Study of the Problems of Cultural Expression of Women Artists during the Covid-19 Period

conducted in 2021-2022 by the YTA Union on the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO, Paris, 2005)  revealed the following:

  • During Covid 19, problems were identified in the legislative framework of Culture defining economic, social and labor rights, including the lack of free artist status; as a result, free artists are considered unemployed and the meagre state aid measures do not apply to them.
  • A common problem has been the inability of the state to make quick and flexible decisions in force majeure situations. In particular: pandemics, lockdowns and strict bans have affected freelancers and representatives of non-state and private cultural institutions/enterprises most severely. However, the special governmental anti-crisis measures (programs, funds, subsidies, tax exemptions, etc.) were not extended to them.
  • Various problems were identified in the nongovernmental sector in the cultural sphere: a lack of organizations to protect the social, creative and professional rights of cultural and art workers; weak advocacy, a lack of corporate interaction and mutual responsibility. As a result, various private solidarity initiatives that have emerged to remedy the plight of free artists have not taken on a systemic character.
  • The need for more digital development in the creative industries: to overcome the problems, the creative sector itself has begun to adapt to this situation and move to online or mixed (online and offline) formats. Part of the creative industries (especially the digital sectors and young people in general) have expanded their audience in an online format and increased their internationalization; as a result, their accessibility and revenues have not decreased, and in some cases have even increased.
  • With few exceptions, the lockdown has caused not only economic but significant socio-psychological damage to the field as a whole, and especially to members of the performing arts.