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Mikheil Chkhenkeli, the candidate for the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, addressed the joint committees of the Parliament, spoke about the important measures taken in the field of culture and informed the committee members about the anti-crisis measures taken by the Ministry for the cultural sector.
As the Ministerial candidate noted in his speech, the restrictions caused by the pandemic affected the field of culture most painfully, however the Ministry retained all the jobs in its subordinate sector, devoted additional resources to the proper functioning of sectoral organizations. The salaries of the employees of the theaters and museums in the system of the Ministry have increased by 100 GEL on average. For their part, the existing challenges were innovatively addressed by the cultural organizations and the events were moved to virtual and open spaces.
The nominated candiated introduced the cultural events to the committee members in a different format due to the pandemic, including: 16 grant competitions supported by the Ministry, in which 161 cultural organizations and up to 4,500 artists participated; More than 1000 online cultural activities were carried out within the framework of the "Culture for You" campaign; Work has resumed on 49 new plays in public and private professional theaters, the premieres of which will be scheduled with the lifting of restrictions. 31 art festivals were held, including under the direction of Eliso Bolkvadze and with the support of UNESCO, the eighth international festival of Black Sea music and art was held online, where foreign musicians participated in it remotely. Due to the pandemic, the Sixth International Festival of Regional Theaters was held in a different format, the festival performances were seen by the audience in the open air, in full compliance with the recommendations. This year, for the first time, a digital theater festival was held, an online platform for world drama was created, an electronic guide to regional theaters was created, and 9 films included in the Golden Fund of the Georgian Cinema Heritage were digitally restored. With the involvement of the Folklore Center, distance learning is actively carried out in schools. In cooperation with the Ministry and the First Channel, the music project "Street Musicians Festival" was held for the first time this year, which brought together professional and non-professional musicians and facilitated their performance.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli spoke in detail about the important infrastructure projects that were implemented uninterrupted despite the pandemic, noting that during the pandemic, two new museums were opened in Georgia - the Vani Archaeological Museum of the National Museum and the Bolnisi Regional Museum. The original look has been returned to the Apolon Kutateladze Art Academy in Tbilisi, and the renewed Art Academy will receive students from the new academic year. 24 cultural heritage sites have been rehabilitated, conservation and archeological research works are being carried out on 55 monuments across the country. In cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Agency, the Cartu Foundation has carried out restoration works on 97 cultural heritage sites. The first mobile application of cultural routes was created to promote cultural tourism.
Significant steps have been taken in the direction of literature. With the funding provided by the charity fund "Cartu" and under the direction of Anzor Erkomaishvili, a scientific paper on national culture "Georgia. History. Culture. Ethnography ”, a unique English language edition, will be gradually transferred to the libraries of the world's leading universities. 16 new art textbooks were created, six volumes of notation manuscripts of medieval Georgian hymns performed in the XIX-XX centuries were prepared for publication.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli also spoke about the international achievements and emphasized the participation of Georgian cinema in international film forums: Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili's film "Beginning" was nominated in the official selection of the Cannes International Film Festival, won 4 awards at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. One of the most prestigious awards in the world was won by the Georgian Art Palace project "Fabric from Georgia", which received the Council of Europe Best Practice nomination and the "2020 Travelers' Choice Award". The "Georgian Table Tradition" was prepared and sent to the list represented by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Despite the current situation, Georgia is actively preparing to participate in many important international festivals, including: Europe 2023, Berlinale, Bologna Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair and Paris Book Fair. In the autumn of 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 European countries in the cultural tourism sector and international institutions.