The Project’s 11th working meeting was held in Poti on 10 October 2015 and covered the following topics:
– Exercising the right to equal participation in cultural processes and benefiting from the results
– Economic use of cultural aspects for urban development
– Conditions of and for artists
– The importance of culture for social cohesion
Nino Gunia-Kuznetsova presented the project and the 2005 Paris Convention to the participants, who represented the Poti Municipality’s Education, Culture and Monument Protection Service, Municipal Non-Commercial (Non-Profit) Legal Persons and the non-governmental sector, including members of fine arts organizations. The presentation was followed by a discussion.
Meeting participants discussed the role and importance of culture for the development of society and the important role of constructive criticism of cultural processes, and how to encourage artists. Several felt that access to resources in the cultural sphere is not equal. This inequality hampers the creative expression of local artists. The status of “independent artist” should be created and individual expression facilitated.
It was noted that, despite stable jobs in cultural institutions, infrastructures must be improved, for example, a new building is needed for the art gallery, book collections need renewing in the library, etc. Fundraising tools should be diversified in view of developing cultural products and services. It is crucial to improve communications between cultural institutions so that exchanges are possible.
Participants drew attention to the problems in the city’s cultural life and specifically the need for cooperation between educational and cultural institutions, improving the distribution system for theater tickets, and attracting the public. Main challenges included low attendance at puppet theater productions, distributing tickets in schools and kindergartens, and difficulties staging off-site shows. It is urgent that professional studies in art education be restored, and that the music college function fulltime. Musical instruments need to be renewed. Participants pointed out that a regional centralized arts and culture management system should be re-established.
Employees working in the cultural fields today are from older generations, while younger generations appear to lack motivation and professional qualifications. There is a shortage of human resources especially in such areas as art pedagogy, music teaching and more specialized professions such as puppet-making.
The issues of the cultural and social cohesion was raised. In this context, participants noted the difficulty of integration for IDPs because of their isolation, caused in part by compact settlements where they were placed.
A lively debate addressed the issue of priorities in the cultural sphere. The existing relations between the city and the port and an ongoing neglect of local needs were identified as key problems for creating priorities. Unemployment, low incomes and the lack of benefits for those employed in the cultural spheres cause younger people to leave these professions and the region.
The need for artists to be mobile, to get better training and qualifications, and to develop a culture of volunteerism was also discussed.
Monitoring and quality assurance require a qualified, expert approach. Participants considered that quality assurance is a must, and that external control mechanisms should be developed that include project planning. They also recommended that municipal resources be increased by donations from the private sector. To facilitate this, a legal framework needs to be elaborated that includes legislation on donations, philanthropy and tax deductions.