2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: March, 2023
During three post-revolutionary years (2018-2021), aggravated by the war and the pandemic, the government and the policy makers were busy with the following immediate tasks:
- Reorganization and optimization of the government structure, reconsideration of main the approaches to the management of education and culture, and development of draft laws in education and museums, which are currently in the process of discussion.
- The anti-corruption struggle and development of anti-corruption strategies.
- Reconsideration of funding concepts of infrastructures and activities.
The corrupt and monopolized economic and political system of the first three decades of independence used education and culture not only as an instrument of influence and political manipulation, but also as a means of personal enrichment of its representatives through illegal alienation, privatization and the sale of cultural objects, infrastructures (buildings, spaces) and other properties (for example, the case of some historical buildings that were illegally privatized by Minister Hasmik Hakobyan, etc.), the targeted annihilation of architectural heritage to clear the space for private investments, etc. All this resulted in the decline of infrastructures, and the loss of a significant part of the cultural heritage.
In general, projects implemented by the government since 2018 fall into several conceptual clusters: availability and financial accessibility of education and culture; stronger state control over financial management; modernization and optimization of educational and cultural infrastructures. Thus, a number of projects being implemented is aimed at closer cooperation and symbiosis of education and culture: better access for schoolchildren to theatres, concert halls and museums through special projects of state support for a certain number of tickets per person each year for everyone; state supported encounters of schoolchildren with selected art objects, artists, musicians, and writers; etc. The main problem with those projects is unavailability of a certain choice of cultural institutions and activities for children from provinces, which is to be resolved at the local level. Another project on modernization and restructuring of culture houses in the regions funded by a state foundation “My step” is aimed at the reanimation of cultural life in villages and small towns. All those projects are supposed to change the situation on a short-term basis, until a new, well-grounded and long-term concept of development of education and culture is developed.
By analyzing public discourse on governmental strategies, one may come to a conclusion about the following main challenges in the related spheres:
- Lack of professionals in the spheres of management of education and culture. Three ministers and even more vice-ministers have already replaced each other and each one of them became an object of severe public criticism. A significant number of employees occupied in the spheres of culture and education demonstrate a poor level of professionalism and motivation, are steeped in corruption and conflicts of interest, with no readiness to improve their performance.
- A very complicated and unhealthy legal, structural and infrastructural heritage in terms of corrupt networks, contradictory legislation, numerous serious violations and risks to be faced and losses to be restored, and investigations still to be conducted.
- The problematic political situation in Armenia, aggravated by the war and the pandemics. Due to serious poitical challenges currently experienced by the country, the local discourse in whatever field or sphere becomes highly politicised and is being immediately used for political manipulations.
In general, the government is accused of a lack of effort and measures to fight the corruption, resumption of some previous methods of management and unprofessional approaches to reforms and transformations implemented. Thus, the new law on education which had been developing for two years, was recently sent to the Constitutional Court, which considered it not fully adhering to constitutional statements. Some managerial solutions like a structural fusion of some theatres and systemic changes in the management of the Opera House were publicly critisized and even led to public scandals. At the same time, changes of managers, personnel, and a strategic development plan in some museums had a positive impact on the sphere.
 see: https://mystep.foundation/hy/our-work/188/
Last update: March, 2023
The right to culture is defined as a fundamental human right both in the RA constitution and in a number of RA laws regulating the sphere of culture. Thus, Article 3 of the RA Constitution stipulates: "In the Republic of Armenia, a person is the highest value. The inalienable dignity of a person is the inseparable basis of his rights and freedoms. The respect and protection of basic human and citizen rights and freedoms are the responsibilities of public authorities. Public authority is limited to the basic rights and freedoms of man and citizen as a directly applicable right.
The Basic Law on the Fundamentals of Cultural Legislation of RA, adopted in 2002, is the fundamental law from which all other laws and legal decisions on cultural issues derive and its Article 1 claims “to ensure and protect the constitutional right of citizens of the Republic of Armenia to freedom of speech, creativity, and participation in the cultural life of society". Article 9 of this Law defines the right to participate in cultural life and to carry out cultural activities for every person, “regardless of his nationality, race, gender, language, religion, beliefs, social origin, property or other status” and Article 10 addresses the right to carry out creative activity for everyone, both professionals and non-professionals. Article 11 defines the right to communicate cultural values in all spheres of cultural activity, libraries, museums, archives of the Republic of Armenia and other collections. And Article 12 claims the right to receive an education in Humanities and Arts and to choose the forms and means of education, without age restriction. Article 13 defines the right to expose and export the results of creative activities and Article 14 addresses the right to create cultural organizations. The Law also defines the cultural rights for foreign citizens and stateless persons, which states: "Foreign citizens and stateless persons in the territory of the Republic of Armenia have equal rights and undertake equal obligations with the citizens of the Republic of Armenia in the field of cultural activities, except for the cases defined by law and international agreements." The Law also regulates the relationships between the state and ethnic minorities in the sphere of culture: “The Republic of Armenia supports the preservation and development of the cultural identity of the national minorities living in its territory, through the implementation of state programmes, contributes to the creation of conditions for the preservation, dissemination and development of their religion, traditions, language, cultural heritage, culture".
The main responsibility for realizing the right to culture is considered to be the authorized state body of the Republic of Armenia represented by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Armenia and its subordinate NGOs and other organizations.
 See: https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docID=102510
 See: http://www.irtek.am/views/act.aspx?aid=19304
 See: https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docID=69109
Last update: March, 2023
To see how the legislation defines the relationship between the state and art and culture related individuals, one must first refer to the Law on the Basics of Cultural Legislation adopted in 2002, which states: "The state 1) promotes the activities of creative workers aimed at preserving, spreading and developing culture, 2) provides conditions for the work and employment of creative workers, 3) supports the expansion of international creative contacts of creative workers." Put differently, the state is supposed to support the activities of the unions of creative workers, gives them the opportunity to participate in the development of cultural policy, takes into account their suggestions when developing programmes in the fields of employment of creative workers, professional training, job security, and social protection. However, in different periods of Armenian history of the 20th and 21st centuries this kind of relationship between artists and the political power was interpreted and realized differently.
If we try to make a mechanical modelling before the Velvet Revolution (2018) and after, the main analytical outline of cultural policy of RA can be classified as that of the state-bureaucratic model before the liberal-liberal model after the revolution. The involvement of cultural figures, creative workers and representatives of the cultural sector in the process of developing and implementing cultural policy is more evident in 2018-2022, because public debates began to be actively used as a new tool of cultural policy. In 2018 the government's decision on the procedure for holding public debates was adopted. There are a number of examples, that after public debates and active media discussions some policies and laws were withdrawn for further changes and developments, such as the new Law on Education.
However, the role of artists and cultural professionals currently is much less significant than in the periods of the strong ideologisation of political regimes. In the 2000's and early 2010's, the representatives of the so called “creative intelligentsia” were actively used as promoters of nationalist and neo-soviet approaches to culture and education (as it was the case in the Soviet times) and their reputation was significantly decreased. Currently, any really reputable figures among art and culture related individuals influencing the political or civil fields do not seem to exist.
 Antonyan, Intelligentsia ?
Last update: March, 2023
Preservation and awareness-raising of moveable culture heritage of our country is one of the most important domains of the state cultural policy. Establishing an electronic information database of cultural values (Armenian treasury) which was launched upon the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia (2014) "On approving the procedure for establishing an electronic information database of cultural values and the list of organisations providing information to the database" is aimed at the solution of this issue. It is aimed at integrating, in a unified format in a single domain, the moveable cultural heritage of the Republic of Armenia and making it accessible both for the general public and the scientists-researchers studying that wealth. Integrated digitised data on museums, archives and handwritten and printed cultural values of both state storages (museums, libraries, archives) and non-state collections (upon the consent of the owners) are included in the database. The database is aimed at further including Armenian moveable cultural values available in different structures of the world and numerous institutions of the Armenian communities. All this will provide an opportunity to widely raise awareness of the cultural heritage of our country both in Armenia and abroad. 41 organisations under state and community subordination have currently joined the database. Data on around 156 586 cultural values are entered into the database and have been approved. Activities on uploading information to the database were launched in January 2016. The first stage of the process finished in 2020.
Since 2001, the National Library of Armenia carried out activities on establishing an Electronic Union Catalogue of the largest Armenian Libraries, which is available at: http://armunicat.am:8991/. The Armenian largest public, marz [regional] and academic libraries have joined the software. It also allows the provision of electronic services to readers. In 2018-2019, digitisation and preservation of 18 Armenian films was ensured through the project “Cinema-photo-phono collections preservation service”. Another digitization programme is the "Electronic Library" project, through which Armenian literature, teaching and popular science materials in the Armenian language, books published by the initiative, by order and assistance of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia were digitised and uploaded on the website. The creation of virtual museums started with the "Virtual Museum of the History of the Armenian Diaspora", exposing online materials and photos concerning the Armenian communities, pan-Armenian organisations and spiritual structures of the Diaspora, concerning Armenia, Armenian Genocide, dictionaries of Armenian names and surnames, Armenian cultural heritage and contributions of eminent Armenians in the world civilisation. To preserve and popularize the Armenian video and audio cultural heritage, digitisation of musical works, films, the so called "Golden Fund" of the Public Radio was implemented through the introduction of the latest technologies. In particular, A. Khzmalyan’s collection "Under the question mark" and souvenir collection of Armenian films "The cinema of our independence" were printed, activities on digitising and preserving 31 films are being carried out within the framework of the project “Cinema-photo-phono collections preservation service", radio performance of V. Papazian’s "The Rock" and the recordings of Tatevik Sazandaryan’s 18 performances kept in “Golden Fund" of the Public Radio were restored and digitised. With a view to ensuring an appropriate level of TV airtime, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia, the TV programme series of "Cultural Armenia” TV programme (64 programmes) and programmes within the framework of TV programme "On the Roads of Armenia" covering Armenian historical and cultural monuments, cultural centres and cultural events, national traditions, rituals and celebrations (56 programmes), "Arvestakirner" [Carriers of Art] (12 programmes), “Antsanot Yerevan” [Unknown Yerevan] (8 programmes), “Hayic hay” [From Armenian to Armenian] 18 (programmes) and “Octava" (8 programmes) marz [regional] and cultural programme were prepared and broadcast by Public Television. With a goal to identify and promote the creative potential in the republic, information databases оf educational tools for talented teens with and without disabilities, child and youth choirs of Armenia were replenished, as well as information databases of educational items necessary for the operating of fine arts schools and the Department of “Visual Arts” of art schools of the Republic of Armenia were established (2019).
Unfortunately, there is no particular research that would emphasize the trends and indicators of the development of digital policies.
Last update: March, 2023
In 2007 the Armenian government ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. According to the Convention, each participant country “ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own.” The Convention attracts special attention to cultural expressions of minorities and various social groups. According to the last census (2011), the national minorities in Armenia make up 1.9% of the country's population; Yezidis prevail (62%). In line with the Constitution, citizens of Armenia who belong to national minorities have the right to preserve and develop their own customs, language, culture and religious liberties. These rights are reflected in a number of laws, which are being strengthened. The policy on national minorities is based on three fundamental principles: • to promote the preservation of ethnic identity and development of ethnic culture; • to prevent any ethnical discrimination; and • to promote the full integration of the non-Armenian population into the society of Armenia. The adoption of international agreements, the necessary amendments and insertions made to the laws of Armenia, as well as the operation of programmes promoting integration, are directed at the implementation of the above three principles. Under the Law on Fundamentals of Cultural Legislation passed in 2002, Armenia supports the cultural identity protection and development of national minorities residing on its territory. Armenia has joined a number of international and intergovernmental treaties that ensure and protect the multicultural environment of national and language minorities, including the Framework Convention on the Rights of National Minorities and the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages. They are implemented in Armenia both by national legislation and by including them in cultural, educational, informational and other programmes. Armenia has also passed the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations. A number of non-governmental organisations operate initiatives to benefit national and religious communities. At present, state support is provided for education in national (mother) languages, for the following minorities: Russians, Yаzidis, Kurds, Assyrians, partially Greeks, Poles, Germans, and Ukrainians – in the programmes of Armenian higher educational institutions. There are regular radio programmes in Kurdish, Yаzidi, Russian, Assyrian, and Georgian languages, which are realised with state support. In the cultural sphere, organisations that function in the educational-cultural development sphere also receive financial and organisational support. The legislative amendments for the protection and development of ethnic identity of non-Armenian residents are ongoing. In recent years, a number of cultural institutions and cultural centres for national minorities were opened in Armenia. Priorities in this sphere include support for ethnic media (about 12 newspapers and magazines are being published in Armenia through communities of ethnic minorities), preservation and promotion of ethnic cultures through publication of books, making films, organisation of art festivals and rehabilitation of historical and cultural monuments (cemeteries, religious worship sites, etc). Cultural diversity in Armenia is also represented by religious diversity. The Constitution provides freedom of religion (article 23). Currently there are 14 different denominations and churches in Armenia, each having its own religious culture, mentality, specifics of everyday life, and centres of social and cultural life.
Last update: March, 2023
Since 2018, a new education strategy has been developed and tested in Armenia. On the basis of this strategy, the education development programme for 2022-2030 was accepted in October 2022. It contains a number of serious transformations in terms goals, methodologies, institutional and infrastructural capacities, education and knowledge standards, quality of personnel, and transparency of educational processes. Currently, application of new standards, requirements and the institutional capacity improvement are in progress, although their introduction is gradual and largely discussed by the professional and beneficiary communities, media and social networks.
Along with institutional, ideological, programmatic and methodological changes, the new system of education is supposed to be compatible with the new cultural vision. Although the new cultural policy is not officially developed yet, some strategies have already been developed and introduced. New approaches pay special attention to students’ cultural rights and opportunities, as well as accessibility of cultural events and institutions. The analysis of the current situation should be started with the transformation in general understanding of the concept of cultural education. If before 2018 cultural education was represented in the school in a form of secondary disciplines such as art and music, then one of the first educational programmes of the authorities was the state support of the systemic attendance at cultural institutions (theatres, museums, art galleries, etc.) by students (at least three free entries per student). The aim of the such programmes is to turn cultural education into a necessary part of public education, to strengthen the connection between society and culture, individuals and culture connection from school and preschool. Another programme is aimed at making art closer to students. Some masterpieces of national and world art from local museums are being brought to educational institutions, accompanied by specialists lecturing about them. This programme has a limited nature, because of multiple problems of security, etc. However, attending museums and museum education programmes is becoming more and more developed and demanded in schools. Many (but not all yet!) state and community museums have a bunch of different types of educational programmes for schoolchildren of different ages, students of high schools and children with disabilities.
Such a strategy is mirroring the policy approaches applied in France in the 1960s, where the basics of cultural education was believed to have to be initiated by the state under the slogan “Culture for everyone”.
Also, it has to be mentioned that the local programmes of community development usually contain programmatic activities and strategies of cultural education. Thus, community development plans set the tasks of supporting cultural mobilization and self-expression, and encouraging cultural diversity. However, according to our observations, sometimes plans of cultural development and cultural education in communities turn out not to be successful, because they are often formal, are not based on new approaches to culture and cultural policies, new methodologies and techniques, and just reproduce old patterns that have been already proved to be ineffective. This is a serious gap that needs to be filled in by systemic changes.
The relationships between education and community programmes are presented in more detail in section 5 of this document.
 David L., Cultural policy in France since 1959: arm's length, or 'up close and personal?'' // http://fgimello.free.fr/documents/florida/cultural_policy_in_france.pdf
Last update: March, 2023
Private radio and television broadcasting began to develop only at the beginning of 1990's. Therefore, the regulation of this field started with the adoption of the Law on Television and Radio (2000) and the formation of the National Committee for Television and Radio in 2001. Today, in Armenia, there is one Public TV Company and one Public Radio Company. There are more than 40 private broadcasters, 20 Radio companies, and more than 60 TV companies in Yerevan and the regions. However, the number of public and private radio broadcasters in rural areas is significantly lower compared to the capital Yerevan. There are only three country-wide radio stations, including public radio and three private channels available to citizens living outside of the capital, while radio listeners of the capital city enjoy 21 radio stations, including three public radio channels.
The correlation between the Armenian-language material in television broadcasts and foreign-language ones varies, depending on the TV channel, but the averages is about 55%-45% (see also chapter 5.3.7). According to the Law, the same company may not obtain a broadcasting license for the same geographic location for both radio and television. According to amendments to the RA Law on Television and Radio, approved on 20 May 2010, Armenia is to move to digital broadcasting. Frequencies are distributed on a competitive basis, however, until recently no guarantees of the transparency and fair choice were given. The competition was usually claimed to be unfair by the TV companies that were unsuccessful. Since 2018, the situation improved, however, according to the Media Needs Assessment report (2022), in 2019-2020 the independence of the Council of Public Television and Radio Company was still considered a critical area. Although the underlying law has been changed since then, the current legal guarantees do not suffice, either. The governance of the Armenian public media system still lacks a critical set of guarantees for independent functioning and the meaningful realisation of its capacities.
There are press agencies in Armenia that cooperate with CIS member countries and similar world major agencies disseminate everyday information. "Armenpress" is the oldest press agency in Armenia, operating since 1921. Two other agencies that have been formed since 1991 are "Noyan Tapan" and "Arminfo", a private agency. There are also news agencies: "Mediamax", "De Facto", "Arka", "Regnum" and photoagencies: "Photolur" and "Patker". There are 5 daily newspapers, including "Aravot" (Morning), "Azg" (Nation), "Haykakan jamanak" (Armenian Times), and "Hayots Ashkharh" (Armenian World). All of them are private. There are 20 regional newspapers published at least once a month, with an overall circulation of about 10,000 copies. Periodicals are divided into ones supporting the authorities and the opposition press. However, since 2018 political positions of newspapers have changed. Thus, if previously "Haykakan jamanak" (Armenian Times) was one of the leading opposition press outlets, currently it mostly reflects the interests and opinions of the ruling “Civil agreement” party and vice versa the previous pro-governmental Russian-language news-paper “Golos Armenii” or a number of politically-biased news-papers such as Azg, Hayots Asgkharh, Iravunk are currently positioning themselves as opposition media. A lot of printed and broadcast media belonging to leaders of the previous, pre-revolutionary regime are now also positioning themselves as the opposition ones. Currently, the media situation is unusual in Armenia, as the opposition media are strongly surpassing in number and coverage the pro-government media.
Since Soviet times, there have been publications of children's and youth periodicals. After independence, a number of new periodicals emerged - "Khatutik", "Manana", "Lolo", "Urakh Gnatsk" ("Merry Train"). However, currently some of them no longer exist and the general decrease in the number of children-oriented media may be noticed. In general, the significant decrease in printed media is observed, which is caused by the digital media boom. A big number of printed and broadcast media companies and outlets have switched to online format (Hetq.am, Lragir.am, Tert.am, Azatutyun.am, Iravaban.net, 168.am, Razm.info, Photolure.am, Panarmenian.net, etc.) and new ones (like Boon.TV) were created as online companies. Many media outlets are reported to just reproduce the content of social networks.
Besides the politically-oriented media, there are also social, political, literary and cultural newspapers - "Yerevani Hamaynapatker", "Noyan Tapan" in English, the newspapers "Grakan tert", "Grqeri Ashkharh", as well as the magazines "Garun", "Nor Dar", "Norq", and "Literaturnaya Armenia". There are also thematic periodicals (comics, scientific, philosophical, religious and so on), but they do not have a great number of readers in Armenia. Academic periodicals include those published by the universities ("Banber Yerevani Hamalsarani", "Vestnik RAU", etc), and by the Academia of Sciences ("Lraber Hasarakakan gitutiunneri", "Hayastani bzhshkagitutyun", "Hayastani qimiakan handes", etc.). Academic media are currently undergoing some revision processes on their way to becoming peer-reviewed and to be included in the international databases like Scopus or Web of Science.
Several papers of ethnic minorities are published in Armenia in ethnic languages such as Ezdikhana, Lalesh, “Assyrian news” (in Russian, with two obligatory pages in Assyrian, funded by the Armenian government), “Magen David” (in Russian and partly in Hebrew) and the Russian-language news-papers “Golos Armenii” and “Novoe Vremya”. The daily radio programme "Voice of Yerevan" broadcast on Program One is issued in 4 languages, Yezidi - 60 minutes, Kurdish - 30 minutes, Assyrian - 15 minutes and Greek - 15 minutes.
Subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals are low, due to the high prices related to expenses for publication and dissemination and a weak market for advertising. The lack of financial investments for the control of media groups and the small salaries of the journalists also hinder progress in this field. Media are surviving by advertisement and private political investments which increases their political engagement.
 Media Needs Assessment report (2022), organised by the Council of Europe, by Dr Krisztina Rozgonyi and Shushan Doydoyan
 Diversity report
 Media Needs Assessment report (2022), organised by the Council of Europe, by Dr Krisztina Rozgonyi and Shushan Doydoyan
 Armenian media in the epoch of Social networks, research report, 2022
Last update: March, 2023
The Law of the Republic of Armenia on Language was adopted in 1993, under which the state language of the Republic of Armenia is Armenian and the official language is literary Armenian. The second language is Russian, which the majority of the population still speak, though the number of people having a good command of Russian has significantly decreased. Among the new generation, the number of people with knowledge of other foreign languages, particularly English, French and German, is gradually increasing. The Language State Inspectorate, attached to the Ministry of Science and Education, manages the language policy, decides the criteria and controls the execution of the Language Law. Compared with the Soviet period, the usage of the Russian language has noticeably declined, although Russian is still taught in secondary and higher education institutions, the Russian press and literature is published, Russian radio programmes are broadcast, and some private TV channels broadcast Russian-speaking films without Armenian subtitles. In Armenia, which is described as being a language homogenous country, many foreign language papers and magazines have been published, such as the Russian "Golos Armenii", "Novoye Vremya", "Literaturnaya Armenia", "Yerevan", "Afisha", "Armyanka" magazines, Yazidi "Lalesh", "Ezdikhana" ("The voice of Yazidis" in Armenian), Ukrainian "Dnipro-Slavutich", and "Magen David" ("The star of David" in Russian) of the Jewish community. Currently, there are no major issues in Armenia relating to foreign languages and other cultures. Since the Soviet times, the Russian language has been considered the main language of interethnic communication among the nations of the previous USSR. Since 1990's, English is strengthening its positions as the main language of international communication. Besides the English language, a number of other foreign languages are taught in the institutes of higher education and there are centres that teach French, Spanish, German and Italian, and cultural unions operate. Armenia is a member of the Francophone countries Association and the festival of Francophonie was held in Armenia in 2021. The existing legislation does not prohibit the language usage of minorities; the state language supremacy is in harmony with the language preservation of national minorities, the international right of mutual respect towards all cultures and the language-political norms of the European Union. In general, each non-Armenian resident of Armenia freely enjoys the entire international and national rights provided for national minorities, but the state offers additional financial support only to the national minorities that meet certain guidelines. These guidelines are developed on the basis of the main principle that if a national minority in any settlement is 15% or more of the population and, if in any small settlement with a population of 2 000 people, the national minority is represented by at least 300 people, then this minority will receive financial support from the state budget to realise their educational, identity protection and other programmes. In Armenia, the Russian, Yazidi and Assyrian ethnic communities meet these guidelines.
Last update: March, 2023
The law “On the Fundamentals of Cultural Legislation” (2002) guarantees equal rights for everyone regardless of their nationality, race, sex, language, religion, beliefs, social origin, property, and another status, as is an inalienable right of every person to participation in the cultural life of the society and carrying out cultural activities in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. In addition, everyone has a right to creativity, both professionally and as an amateur, as well as everyone having a right to communicate cultural values, and to use any available state cultural resources in accordance with the legislation of RA.
Current priorities of the Government of the Republic of Armenia in the sphere of culture include ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men to freely participate in [cultural] life, to enjoy the benefits of their own creation, and to freely interact with cultural values. Some positive results have been recorded during the implementation of the law: introduction of gender expert examination of laws; secondary legal acts, policies and programmes in the culture sector concerning the participation of women; development of analytical tools for the purpose of establishing gender perspectives in the cultural policy; encouraging the positive coverage of gender issues in the print media and publishing and promoting the spread of ideas of equality between men and women; creation of educational and methodological complexes for teaching gender subjects in the form of textbooks and methodological manuals; inclusion of the gender component in the state policy in the culture sector; targeted support of social programmes dedicated to the issues of gender equality in the audiovisual sectors (cinema, theatre, advertising) within the framework of state order financing; - Introduction of gender knowledge in the training system of cultural workers.
However, there are still some important gaps, e.g. the absence of gender policy in the dissemination of financial resources and creation of new opportunities in the cultural field; the absence of gender equality component monitoring in the cultural sphere; strategic understanding of culture as national culture. Civil society organizations sustain (though chaotic, uneven, sometimes poorly organized) discourse on gender equality, the role, and importance of women's engagement in the cultural field. The main points of the discourse are that women are not only quantitatively equal but are often decision-makers and culture is an innovative tool for the development of the creative potential of society, for the development of civil society.
It can be stated that although the spheres of education and culture are the most feminized in Armenia this does not lead to a more positive picture of gender equality, but quite the opposite. These are spheres where labour is low paid and requires a lot of effort in return. Workers in the field do not acquire either social or economic significant capital. Sometimes the feminization of industries leads to a devaluation of these industries themselves, which are perceived in society as “not a male occupation,” that is, not profitable enough and not serious enough. Though unequal remuneration based on gender is prohibited by the RA law “Providing equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men,” the recent research on the gender pay gap in Armenia made by UN Women shows that the issue continues to be vital in the country and there is a 23% pay gap in all spheres and occupations in Armenia.
A subject for misperceptions was the ratification process of the Istanbul Convention in Armenia. The process started in 2017, when the Government of Armenia approved the signing of the Convention on December 28 with the initiative of the Council of Europe. It caused a wave of public and far-right non-parliamentary political parties’ unrest, which stated that the eradication of prejudices, traditions, customs and all other phenomena based on the stereotypical division of men and women is a major threat to Armenian society and is destroying the national value system.
One of the most important reflections on the Velvet Revolution of 2018 and the women’s role and importance within these events led to the Armenian exposition in the 2019 Viennese Biennale, where for the first time in the history of Armenian contemporary art, the country was represented by the predominantly feminist theme.
Despite the significant improvement in the legal field, the LGBT community in Armenia still faces legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents, due in part to the lack of laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and in part to prevailing negative attitudes about LGBT persons throughout society. Some NGOs and public initiatives in Armenia actively try to change the situation. Thus, Queering Yerevan Collective, a group of women artists, philosophers, translators, researchers and writers advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms in the Armenian cultural and art field or FemLibrary Center, a feminist initiative aimed at creating alternative art and international exchange of artists and queer activists from Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, Greece, Germany, USA, France, etc, or 4PLUS, a women photographers’ organization may be mentioned as successful examples.
 Armenia Country Gender Equality brief, UN Women report, 2019
 Gender Analysis of the Cultural Field in Armenia prepared by CSN Lab – Sona Kalantaryan, Tigran Amiryan, 2021 // https://www.newdemocracyfund.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/07/GA_Armenia.pdf
Last update: March, 2023
In 2010 the Republic of Armenia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 30 of which refers to cultural life, recreation, participation in entertainment and sports activities. The convention, in particular, states: «1․ States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities: (a) Enjoy access to cultural materials in accessible formats; (b) Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats; (c) Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance. 2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.» However, joining the convention does not mean being able and institutionally capable to implement it. As a significant part of cultural institutions were built in soviet and pre-soviet times, they were not designed for people with mobility problems or other disabilities. Many of state or public cultural organizations did not have additional resources, both financial and material to make themselves compatible with the convention, to develop new approaches and strategies. Significant changes in this field were made possible in 2021, when the new Law on Persons with Disabilities was finally adopted. This law is to provide favorable conditions for the implementation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with other persons, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, as well as in accordance with the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, international treaties ratified by the Republic of Armenia , ensuring their equal participation and effective social inclusion in public life. This law replaced the old law on social protection of disabled persons adopted in 1993, which did not fully comply with the norms of international law. The newly adopted law derives from the main principles of the mentioned UN Convention.
However, the situation is still far from being significantly improved. In order to integrate people with disabilities into cultural life, to meet their cultural needs, it is important to provide full physical access to cultural institutions, as well as take measures for relevant adaptations such as tangible or audible descriptions of art pieces in galleries, subtitles for films, sign language translation for theatres, etc. In the meantime, there are very few performances and concerts adapted for people with hearing, visual or other types of disabilities. Some cultural institutions still remain physically inaccessible, which prevents people with disabilities from actively participating in cultural life.
They also experience problems with expression of their creative potential. In particular, there are almost no art groups in Armenia (theatre, painting, song, dance and other art groups), adapted for people with disabilities. However, some efforts are being taken to solve the above mentioned problems. According to the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Armenia, the problem of physical accessibility and infrastructures has been already solved in the number of institutions such as the Museum-Institute of the Armenian Genocide, Museum of Komitas, M. Saryan's House Museum, the Tchaikovsky Secondary Music Vocational School and some others. The process is going to be consistent. Within the framework of the recently launched programme of social inclusion of persons with disabilities (2018), the "Special Creative Centre for Children" (SNOC), with branches in Yerevan, Lori, Shirak and Gegharkunik provinces, have been implementing the aesthetic and handicraft training programme for 614 children with disabilities.
Last update: March, 2023
Cultural and social inclusion underwent noticeable changes in the RA cultural policy after the Velvet revolution (2018), when the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Armenia and other infrastructures of the state system (for example, the Ministry of Social Affairs) began to develop a series of joint cultural inclusion programmes, targeting pensioners, schoolchildren and the disabled.
The school subscription system implementation programme is intended for students and teachers of grades 1-12 of state public schools. The implementation of the system, launched in 2018 guarantees to each student and teacher one free entry to three cultural institutions (a museum, a theatre, a concert hall) during the school year. The goal of the project is to promote school - cultural institution connection, to contribute to the artistic education and aesthetic development of children and teenagers. Within the first months of November-December 2018, more than 40 000 students and teachers had visited the museums and other cultural institutions. This figure is persistently increasing. Museums and theatres are more frequently visited organizations, and concert halls less. Thus, through the subscription system, more than 386,000 students studying in RA public schools can participate in the cultural event of their community or any other city of RA.
In the 2019-2023 five-year development plan of Yerevan city, the problem of social inclusion of pensioners and disinherited elderly has been raised and possible solutions addressed. Article 10 of this programme envisages “the creation of day care and entertainment centres in each administrative region for lonely and disinherited elderly and socially insecure pensioners".
In 2018, a project to give pensioners opportunities of visiting concert halls and theatres for free was developed. It was implemented in October-December 2018, but revealed a number of problems with escorting pensioners, as many of them could not attend cultural institutions alone and the inclusion of pensioners in regional and rural areas required expensive transportation. The programme was suspended.
Social and cultural inclusion of people with disabilities is carried out not only through state programmes, but also through a number of public organizations. By signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD), the Government of the Republic of Armenia has taken over the responsibilities to support, protect and ensure the full exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.
By ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on October 22, 2010, the RA authorities undertook to implement the obligations specified by the Convention, Article 30 of which refers to cultural life, recreation, participation in entertainment and sports activities.
Many non-governmental organizations deal with the cultural and social problems of people with disabilities, and as a result of getting to know the issues raised by them, the corresponding policy is developed in order to ensure the integration of people with disabilities into society. Significant changes in this field also became noticeable after the revolution in RA. In 2021, the RA Law on Persons with Disabilities was adopted.
The purpose of this law is to provide favorable conditions for the realization of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with other persons, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, as well as in accordance with the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, international treaties ratified by the Republic of Armenia, ensuring their equal participation and effective social inclusion in public life. This law replaced the RA law on social protection of disabled persons adopted in 1993, which did not comply with the norms of international law. In order to integrate into cultural life, to meet one's own cultural needs, it is important to have physical access and accessibility to cultural institutions, such as adaptations like picture descriptions in galleries, subtitles for films, sign language translation for theatres, alternative books for people with intellectual disabilities.
Meanwhile, there are almost no performances and concerts adapted for people with hearing, visual or other types of disabilities. Furthermore, the inaccessibility of cultural facilities prevents people with disabilities from participating in cultural life. In particular, there are almost no art groups in Armenia (theatre, painting, song, dance and other art groups) in which people with disabilities will be involved. Along with that, there are still cultural institutions that are not accessible for people with disabilities to enter and exit, as well as for their free movement within the mentioned buildings. Moreover, specially adapted areas for people with locomotor, as well as hearing and visual problems are not provided at all in the halls of a number of cinemas, theatres and other cultural structures. There are no bathrooms adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. Certain steps have been taken to solve the above problems. Just recently the mentioned problems (free movement and bathrooms) has been solved in the Museum-Institutes of the Armenian Genocide and Komitas, M. Saryan's House Museum, Yerevan P. In the Tchaikovsky Secondary Music Vocational School and 7 of the 29 cultural organizations are located on the first floor. Within the framework of the programme of social inclusion of persons with disabilities, which started in 2018, the "Children's Special Creative Centre" SNOC implemented the aesthetic and craft training programme in Yerevan, Lori, Shirak and Gegharkunik marzes, within the framework of which free arts and crafts training was organized for 614 children with disabilities in 12 specialties.
 See: https://www.yerevan.am/uploads/media/default/0001/96/47e1986386f7c83ef76ba01ff53f3411cfa11b44.pdf
 https://www.arlis.am/documentview .aspx?docID=64762
Last update: March, 2023
As some research shows, the presence of arts is linked to increased neighborhood livability, community identity, and social wellbeing. This is true for Armenia as well. As a result of needs assessments for different communities, many of them name among their main problems that hinder their well-being, the absence of cultural/art institutions, cultural/art education and cultural/art activities for children, youth and the older people. Thus, projects for the renovation of cultural houses are frequent among the projects implemented in the framework of the state programme of infrastructural subventions to communities and their number increase yearly (4 - 2018, about 50 - 2019, about 90 – 2020). Cultural houses are usually only spaces for the organization of art classes and cultural events in the regions and their presence obviously improves the quality of life. Projects for the creation of community centres funded by the “My Step” Foundation also include art components to positively impact life in the remote communities.
After the second Karabakh war (2020) one of the tools and mechanisms to help psychological rehabilitation of the displaced children and children living in the border-zone were art classes, theatrical performances, exhibitions and musical concerts. The street art on war thematics like portraits of killed soldiers on the walls of houses where they lived or schools where they learned, supported by private donors or even schools and municipalities has become one of the memorial practices to alleviate the grief of parents and friends.
Last update: March, 2023
Consistent works have been carried out to value and appreciate culture as sustainable development potential. The role of culture in economic stability, preservation of national identity, formation of the civil society and social capital in the country, preservation of peace, cultural diversity is studied. The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia which includes provisions concerning the economy, urban development, healthcare, nature protection, culture and other sectors, and is aimed at the development of tax policy and administration, institutional modernisation and development of infrastructures of the country. The successful implementation of the cultural policy firstly depends on the principle of state budgeting. The financing of the cultural sector is carried out on the basis of programme budgeting, the priority areas of which derive from laws of the Republic of Armenia in force, decisions of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the system of measures designated by the sustainable development programme. The whole chain of “drafting — planning — budgeting” of those policies is implemented through triennial medium-term state expenditure frameworks, in the elaboration, financing, organisation, monitoring of which the civil society representatives in the composition of sectoral professional boards of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia are engaged. In the field of Culture the revenues geared down to the potential of economic growth are the revenues received from cultural services rendered to the public that mostly generate from the sales of tickets to theatre goers, concert goers and to exhibition visitors, the lease of halls, premises, lending of drawings, bibliographic and indexing services, sales of books, newspapers, etc. From the point of view of building the capacities of national minorities and human capital, ensuring their education, importance is attached also to many non-governmental organisations and cultural centres of national minorities operating in the Republic of Armenia, the aim of which is to nurture national consciousness, preserve and develop the mother tongue, literature, history and culture. Inclusive creative measures and targeted educational programmes for full-fledged integration of vulnerable groups into the cultural life, providing conditions for their further creative development and progress, creating self-manifestation opportunities, as well as building a climate of tolerance in the public are implemented in the sector.
Last update: March, 2023
One of the main problems in Armenia is the underdeveloped academic field of cultural policy studies. This branch of social and political science is new in RA; it has not formed yet the academic language and forms of public presentation of academic achievements. Thus, concepts of cultural polity, cultural policy, cultural politics established in the English-language literature do not have a terminological difference in Armenian, so this problem is still to be solved. On the other hand, weak interaction of public, political and academic fields prevent policy-makers from actively involving academicians in the policy development process and strategic thinking.