CAUCULT was an international, intercultural project promoting local culture-related initiatives that support ethnic, religious and cultural diversity across the South Caucasus. The unique cultural diversity was the strength of the Caucasus region throughout its history and resulted in an amazingly wide range of cultural expressions. Wars and conflicts of the past decades cast a shadow on the beauty and strength of this unique feature of the Caucasus.
CAUCULT aimed to re-discover the cultural diversity in the Caucasus as a key to a creative, progressive and prosperous development of the region through empowerment of local cultural actors and community art activities promoting intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity. Furthermore, these activities are supposed to encourage a mutual and vivid dialogue between various stakeholders representing different cultural backgrounds.
By means of a variety of targeted measures for capacity building, community art development, targeted media work and the promotion of inclusive cultural policies the project:
- Supported active participation of citizens, especially groups with less recognized ethnic and cultural backgrounds, in cultural activities;
- Established strong, inclusive and sustainable networks of cultural actors from different areas in order to actively promote cultural diversity;
- Enhanced a structured and skillful intercultural dialogue between all relevant stakeholders in order to ensure greater respect for and more appreciation of cultural diversity.
The project was implemented by an international team of NGOs located in five different countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Austria and Lithuania (links to the websites of the coordinating organizations).
The main participants of the project were the Key Dialogue Workers (hereinafter KDW) – cultural actors from 3 regions of Armenia and Yerevan representing different cultural and educational institutions, civil society organizations, as well as ethnic/national minority groups.
Due to the specially designed empowerment activities the KDWs enhanced their knowledge in the field of cultural management and learned about the method of community art. Based on the gained knowledge in cooperation with local authorities, civil society organizations and other institutions they have implemented over 20 cultural events each designed taking into account the very specific needs and peculiarities of the communities they live in.
The most important outcome for KDWs, the main target group of the project, was the enhanced knowledge and new skills on cultural events management (incl. some basic knowledge on fundraising), work with mass media, community art techniques, as well as the networking activities. Since one of the main identified problems of the target communities was the lack of cultural managers the implemented training courses and networking activities were of a huge support for the communities involved in the action.
In Armenia there are 19 key dialogue workers involved in the Network from Gyumri, Alaverdy, Stepanavan, Vanadzor, Goris, Qarahunj village and Yerevan. However, the Network grew considerably on the spot due to different community art events implemented by KDWs in cooperation with other local actors.
Taking into account the specific aims of CAUCULT, namely promotion of participation of minority groups in cultural life, establishment of dialogue between community members and local authorities, community art was selected as a tool of work within the frames of the project.
WHY COMMUNITY ART?
Community art is a new format of cultural events that can be defined as a method of community mobilization and/or a way to establish a dialogue with the community members through art and culture. The term community art was defined in the late 1960s as a methodological approach where professional artists implement cultural activities with the involvement of community members, thus, addressing community needs and problems.
SPECIFICS OF COMMUNITY ART:
- To free art and culture from the "only for professionals" format and provide all community members with opportunities to discover their innovative and creative potential and apply this in addressing different community challenges.
- To show alternative ways for community members of searching and addressing solutions to existing community problems by promoting dialogue, principles of peaceful problem solution and maximum promotion of innovative approaches and creativity.
- To organize events with maximum participation and involvement methods. This will promote community members with chances to express their opinions and have their input in searching a solution to an existing problem as well as raise the visibility of "not visible" groups, places and problems.
To reach considerable changes in social life it is necessary to select a communication method which will influence different levels of consciousness, help people look at different issues from different perspectives and feel better the importance of different community problems. The community art approach is exactly the method that allows people to feel connected to community problems and helps to raise their concerns.