Two weeks around South Caucasus
Martynas and Franjo went on monitoring trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Martynas Stukas from Association of Non-formal Education in Lithuania and Franjo Steiner from Interkulturelles Zentrum spent two weeks in the South Caucasus with the aim to monitor CAUCULT project and its activities.
We sit with Martynas for coffee in the sunny Vilnius where he tells, that participating in the community art events helped him a lot to understand the impact of CAUCULT project and practical need of the activities, organized by the Key Dialogue Workers. Franjo has contributed to this interview via email. But about all – from the beginning.
After landing in Baku, Martynas was not sure if Franjo will be able to come on time due to the visa procedure. All went fine, and Franjo also arrived to Azerbaijan. Firstly, the monitoring team had a meeting with CAUCULT local project managers – Pervana, Ilaha and Rena from Humanitarian centre Yuva. Also, there was a chance to meet Key Dialogue Workers: Konul Yazar, Dilara Yusufova, Arzu Soltan, Leyla Amirova, who expressed that the most valuable experience while participating in CAUCULT project was training courses and study visits where they got a chance to get engaged with Community Art method, deepen their knowledge on cultural policy and management.
The following day, Franjo, Martynas, Pervana and Ilaha went to Guba, where the Community Art event “Are you aware of your talent?”, organised by Zamiq Huseynov, Rakhshanda Bayramova and Aygun Agamirzayeva took place. “For this community art event KDW Aygun also involved her family to pick up meadow flowers in the early morning before the event. Later on, the beautiful bouquet were made out of it and given to event visitors”, said Franjo.
After just a short stay in Azerbaijan, Martynas and Franjo had to leave to Georgia where they met our Georgian Colleagues Thea and Maka. With Shota - a colleaqgue of Thea and Maka – and him as driver Thea, accompanied by Ketevan Adeishvili, they started early next day to visit Bolnisi and Gardabani, where Community Art activities were planned this day. “It was not so easy to reach the village Disveli, Bolnisi municipality, but we made it! The kids from the school, Tamar Bobokhidze had chosen for her community art activity, were so excited to host this puppet theatre event and to have guests from abroad, because not many visitors manage to come to this village”. The community Art Event “The Legend of Bakuriani” presented a puppet play performed by the school kids. Tamar taught the local kids how to make and perform the puppets. The puppet performance raised an issue in the community and invited people to discuss it. After this event Martynas and Franjo had to be on a hurry, because “Gardabani Classical Music Day” was taking place. “We - but primarily Giorgi Davidoff were lucky with the weather and the first open-air event ever held in the municipality went smooth” – explained Martynas all excited. Key Dialogue Worker Giorgi is aiming to make such event annually and already made an agreement with a municipality for financial support.
On 28th of May they went to Akhalktiskhe – on this day accompanied by Fiqria Goginashvili, Thea’s friend and casually a professional photographer, where the event “More colors” – organized by Marine Gogoladze - took place. Firstly, people met the school children, who continued coloring the wall they started to paint during the Start-up festival. Afterwards we moved to Rabati castle where Armenian minority members presented national songs, music and dances. After the performance visitors and participants had a chance to taste biscuits with tea, coffee or juice. The same day the monitoring team had to go to Kachreti where an RMCBU workshop on Cross Cutting topics was organized. After around 7 hours traveling they arrived in Kachreti around midnight, very satisfied because of the exciting and interesting encounters but very, very tired. Next day they met the other team members as well as people implementing projects under the “Eastern Partnership Culture programme” and discussed synergies and possibilities of cooperation among the projects.
After the RMCBU meeting Martynas and Franjo had planned to visit Armenian KDWs and surprisingly the monitoring team became extended, Oksana Muzychuk from the RMCBU team joint the monitoring trip. Together with Armenian participants of the RMCBU meeting they traveled by bus to Yerevan. Martynas, Franjo and Oksana went directly to the festival “Let’s recognize culture through fairytales”. Martynas expressed sadness that a minibus from Kachreti took a bit longer than they have planed and made them being little late. In English park in Yerevan – where the event was organized by Khdr Hajoyan, Karine Stepanyan, Marianna Karakeyan, Tatevik Sekoyan and Armine Sabryan -
there were lots of kids who came with their parents to listen for the fairy tales, songs, to draw pictures or to make his/her own windmill. “The KDWs have been really tired after organizing the event with so many interested visitors, therefore we agreed to have a monitoring discussion the following day. But the kids didn’t want to go home, they wanted more and more fairy tails” and couldn’t stop painting pictures and making there own fairy tale books” – laughed Martynas.
On the second of June, Martynas, Franjo, Oksana, as well as Anna and Areg from ICIRLD went to Vanadzor, where they participated in the “Cultural exhibition” event – organized by Zara Nikoghosyan, Artashes Sergoyan and Oleg Dulgaryan -where they had a chance to see handmade crafts, listen for traditional songs, music, to learn some dances and taste homemade food and drinks. Artashes Sergoyan and Oleg Dulgaryan decided to organize a Community Art event together which will take place in the end of June.
“We also had a chance to have a talk with the KDWs from Vanadzor about their experience and thoughts about CAUCULT, community, future plans”. Questions like “would it be better to set the focus of the KDWs efforts on empowerment of young and not skillful members/volunteers of NGOs or on the structural development of the NGOs itself (as such) have been discussed as well as challenges they had to face participating in the CAUCULT project like implementing a the new approach of community art in their communities”. KDWs reflection on the project progression as well as the suggestions of the other KDWs we have met was very helpful to design possible follow up projects in the region. Before traveling to Gyumri project team had the chance to meet with colleagues of Zara’s NGO “NGO Center” Civil Society Development NGO in their office where they had a interesting and fruitful discussion about cultural policy issues in the region.
The last day (and the evening before) of the monitoring trip was dedicated to Gyumri. Anna, Martynas and Franjo had the chance to have a guided tour about Gyumri’s famous style of architecture with Arthur Gevorgyan, one ot the KDW’s living in Gyumri. “Talking to our friends in Gyumri we have heard that people were still talking about a very successful “The triangle” Start-up festival and explained funny stories, which stayed in secret, such as - that before organizing “The Crying Wedding” the agreement was made to rent two horses for the carriage, but just before the event – one of the horses died, so in a hurry there was a need to organize another one. Also, it appeared that two newly married couples joint the festival and had a party together with all the people who gathered in the main square of Gyumri” added Franjo.
Also, while visiting Gyumri Martynas, Franjo and Oksana got a competent impression about Vahagn Ghukasyan’s Community Art event – organized as an interactive exhibition called “Changes of Shadows” in the “Style” gallery in Gyumri. This interactive exhibition aimed to promote the idea of visiting museums by children and youth.
Lyudmila Harutyunyan, Vardevar Shamamyan and Armen Mkrtchyan (he was busy that day and couldn’t join our meeting) are going to organise a Community Art event together. The idea is to renovate a park in the Boulevard District of Gyumri which will be decorated with the elements and characteristics of fairy tales, myths and legends of different nations. Thus, there will be an intercultural park promoting cultural diversity in the Cultural Capital of Armenia.
Summarizing the monitoring trip, Franjo and Martynas wanted to say that they are very happy that they had a chance to participate in many different events, that there were opportunities to meet and talk with many KDWs about their expectations, experience, learning and future plans. One of the most interesting aspects for both of them was to meet KDWs in their town/city, their surrounding, their communities. It really helped the project team to understand the Caucasian reality and experience the impact of the CAUCULT project.
“Also we would like to thank to all our partners for the help in each Caucasus country and for KDWs for welcoming us and sharing their experience and thoughts with us” – said Martynas while finishing coffee.