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Mikheil Chkhenkeli, a candidate for the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, addressed the joint committees of the Parliament. He noted, that during the pandemic, the need to maintain and ensure active cultural life was on the main agenda. According to him, a number of important measures were taken in this regard.
According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, all jobs in the public culture sector were fully retained by the Ministry and additional resources were allocated for the proper operation of cultural organizations. In particular, the renumeration of theater and museum personnel was increased by an average of GEL 100. The Ministry also maintained cultural competitions and adapted them online. As a result, a total of 161 cultural organizations and about 4500 active artists participated in 16 grant competitions.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli: "The Ministry and its subordinate agencies have taken an innovative approach to the issue of bringing cultural events to the public by moving them online or to open spaces.”
Mr. Chkhenkeli spoke in detail about the activities that took place remotely due to the pandemic. In particular, more than 1000 online cultural activities were conducted within the "Culture for You" campaign framework; 31 art festivals in the fields of literature, theater, music, fine arts, film and folklore were held. Additionally, in October 2020, under the leadership of Eliso Bolkvadze, with the support of UNESCO, the eighth International Festival of Black Sea Music and Art was held online. Moreover, due to the complications caused by the pandemic, the Sixth International Festival of Regional Theaters was held online. All performances were held in the open air, in full compliance with the recommendations provided by the WHO and Ministry of Health. Efforts are resumed on 49 new plays in state and private professional theaters since July.
The scientific work - “Georgia. History. Culture. Ethnography "- a unique English language edition was also published, and this three volume edition is already being distributed to libraries of various universities around the world.
According to Mr. Chkhenkeli, projects implemented in the field of creative research were especially fruitful, including the creation of 16 new art textbooks, the preparation of six volumes of notation manuscripts of medieval Georgian hymns performed in the XIX-XX centuries. This year, for the very first time, a digital theater festival was held, an online platform of world drama and an electronic guide for regional theaters was created. Also, nine films were included in the Golden Fund of the Georgian Cinema Heritage and were fully restored and digitally stored. Also, the first mobile application of cultural routes was created to promote Georgian cultural tourism. In collaboration with the Ministry and the First Channel of Georgia, the musical project - "Street Musicians Festival" was launched, which brought together professional and non-professional musicians and facilitated their performance.
Furthermore, Mikheil Chkhenkeli touched the aspect of international achievements and noted that the participation of Georgian cinema in international film forums was especially successful: Dea Kulumbegashvili's film "Beginning" was nominated for the Oscar nomination as a Georgian film. The aforementioned film was also nominated for an official selection at the Cannes International Film Festival and won four awards at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. It is also noteworthy that a project, initiated by the Georgian Art Palace - "Fabric from Georgia" won the 21st Century Strategy (ST21) award, by Council of Europe.
With regards to future projects, it is planned to fund new experimental and innovative projects under the Culture Promotion Program. Preliminary preparatory work has already begun, for the anticipated participation in important international festivals such as: Europe 2023, Berlinale, Bologna, Frankfurt, and Paris Book Fairs. And finally, in Fall 2021, Georgia will host a large-scale forum of the Council of Europe Cultural Routes in Kutaisi, which will be attended by up to 300 high-ranking guests from the cultural tourism industry and international institutions from the European member countries.