Issue 2, 2015. April-May

   

GEORGIA CREATING TEN- YEAR "CULTURE STRATEGY"

The Georgian Ministry of Culture is working together with all levels of government, civil society, religious groups, and political parties to create a ten-year strategy of priorities to develop Georgian culture in all aspects of life, from education and tourism to business and the environment.

Deputy Culture Minister Levan Kharatishvili is very clear: after years of ad hoc funding and programs that changed with every new administration, the Ministry of Culture is ready to make a plan.

The strategy, which will set objectives for 2025, is part of a year-long process of consultations and teamwork between the ministry, all levels and branches of government, and all of civil society. the first round of public discussions should start this summer.

The end result, Kharatishvili said, will be both an apolitical "starting point" for all administrations to continue strengthening the role of culture in all aspects of life, as well as a new model of cooperation, transparency and inclusive decision making.

The ministry receives roughly 50 grant applications a day for funding but it lacks any real strategy on how to allocate the limited funds at its disposal. With the EU's help, the ministry created a road map. Now its team is traveling around the country, and working with a wide, fully inclusive group of society - including political opposition parties, religious minorities, the Georgian Orthodox Church, culture groups and other non-governmental organizations - to identify what people's needs and wants are, and to understand the situation outside of Tbilisi.

The result has been eye-opening. It is clear that the country lacks the financing for developing and supporting culture, which is not a uniquely Georgian problem.

But Kharatishvili said a deeper issue - the "roots" of the tree of problems - is a lack of awareness of how important culture is and how to make it part of all aspects of life.

What he is finding in the regions is that there is a lack of information and a lack of resources for how people can use the opportunities on the ground, to utilize "creative industry" and their own local culture and strengths to create business and revenue for the local population.

A key, according to Kharatishvili, will be to find the way - through alternative funding as well as the government - to finance cultural development in all aspects of life, including involving the youth and helping connect youth to the local community.

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