Georgia’s Cultural Policy between the Past and the Future

N. Nergadze, G. Gvakharia, N. Sanadiradze and G. Odisharia
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დისკუსიის ძირითადი მომხსენებლები ნიკო ნერგაძე, სოფო კილასონია, გურამ ოდიშარია, ნინი სანადირაძე და მოდერატორი გოგი გვახარია

What should the format of cultural policy be? What are the key issues that could be referred to as defining the cultural policy field? Sopo Kilasonia and Niko Nergadze, journalists, Guram Odisharia, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, and Nini Sanadiradze, Project Manager for the National Museum of Georgia, raised these issues during a discussion on cultural policy hosted by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.  

Speakers addressed the topic from different angles. Sopo Kilasonia spoke of the necessity of de-politicizing culture and appropriately managing budgets. According to her, “cultural politics is systemic and continuous, and strategic work regarding the needs of the cultural field for the given time and space needs to be done.” She presented brief points concerning legal as well as strategic and continuous measures to resolve current issues. Together with the issue of politicization, she believes the problem is superficiality of culture, lack of cultural processes in other regions and a non-competitive environment.

Niko Nergadze spoke of the role and function of cultural processes; how the culture should be developed and who is to initiate it; whether government initiatives and aspirations to introduce taste and new values should involve imposing them on the society; the development of alternative art, “rebellious spirit” and issues of funding, public expectations of the government, and the lack of initiative from the public itself. He stated that “self-governance and decentralization are some of the most important things that can take place. Let’s allow the public to decide what it wants. However, it also needs to be balanced. If we entrust it only to people, it may not go forward.”

“I promise there will be more roundtables and more conferences. Committees will be created to ensure a smoother work process. I want our work to be more transparent,” said Guram Odisharia, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection. Later, he provided more detailed responses to questions related to different problems of culture, but he has not provided a straightforward answer to the question regarding the concept of cultural policy and the strategic direction the Ministry is planning to adopt for it.

“Culture is a system of values, and cultural policy needs to exist alongside state politics. It is connected to educational politics as well,” said Nini Sanadiradze, Project Manager for the National Museum, at the beginning of her speech. She spoke of the legislative gaps and lack of public involvement and public discussion mechanisms within the field of urban development.

The audience’s biggest interest was generated towards the topics of the National Cinema Center, relations between culture and media, public participation in committees and commissions mentioned by the Minister, and cultural heritage. Participants asked questions about the law on patronage of art, inclusion of the Georgian language in the list of non-material cultural monuments, the role of private initiatives, and the issues of art education.  They also raised the issues of education in the field of culture, renovation of the Tbilisi Opera House, rehabilitation of musical educational establishments, the lack of movie theaters, sources for funding cultural heritage, and criteria for selecting personnel.