Final Notes

The local workshops in Tbilisi, Lviv and Minsk are now complete. Thank you to all participants, trainers, and local organisers for all your work, effort and enthusiasm.

To remind everyone:
The full details of the grant competition for local projects in the three countries will be announced by the end of January 2014. They will be posted on this blog, as well as emailed to participants. The deadlines and decision making process will be shortly thereafter, as the projects need to be realised between April and the end of October 2014.  Promptly submit the proposal you have been working on and we will be in contact with you to discuss it before we make a final decision. Good luck!

Again, we stress that it can be a small tightly defined project, or it can be the first phase (or pilot) of a larger project, but we want to see concrete and realisable proposals within the timeframe and budget.

Warm Regards, Weronika, Agnieszka, Brendan.

2Last day in Tbilisi: our team are clearly discussing ‘Planning an effective project budget’. (Photo by Krystof Czyzewski.)

And thanks to the Adam Mickiewicz Institute for their support towards the research element of the Borderland trip to Georgia – visits to local organisations and projects which were either linked to the summer academy, or whom have an interest in future co-operation and project development.

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All that glitters…

In Batumi (at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara) we meet with Minister Giorgi Tavamaishvili and the Head of Department of Culture, Irine Surmanidze, to discuss potential cooperation with Borderland Academy. Later, Krystof Czyzewski made a lecture to the cultural management course students at Batumi Art Teaching University – with translation by Levan Khetaguri. He spoke about what interested him most in contemporary art – work that is about empathy and social engagement. He spoke of how theatre work in Sejny drew its inspiration not just from local stories but from other places, such as Indonesia, working  with different disciplines. Students at the university spend their first year following a standard university arts curriculum and only in their second year choose a speciality – cultural management, media studies, theatre studies, marketing, cultural economy. Several students wanted more detail of the summer academy and how to apply for future editions. There were also discussions about the possibility of a Georgian summer academy.

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We have a brief walk in between the monumental buildings of Batumi, from the old town, past immense public art sculptures on every available roundabout, along the lengthy sea boulevard – which recreates a variety of world architecture including a greek acropolis, an Italian piazza and so on. And of course, we also find Medea in the rain… Much of this has been constructed since 2007 – a playground for contemporary architects, with a lot of gold trimmings and glittering statues. Undoubtably a popular location with the crowds of tourists is the summer is the all singing and dancing fountains at Batumi Pier –  with a line of speakers blasting out (of all things on such a wet evening as this) a popular Polish song from the 1964 by Filipinki.  Menawhile, towering far above us, the palm trees, the plasma screens and Circe’s niece, is the highest building in Batumi. The fate of the Technological University – with 37 floors – is uncertain. It currently remains empty.

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The next day Brendan Jackson made a presentation to students at the Art Academy about his artistic practice and the value of creative thinking. He summarised it as involving the spirit of cooperation, the spirit of curiousity, the spirit of simplicity. He spoke of collaborations with health workers, IT workers, community leaders, as well as with curators and other artists. He highlighted the following projects – a project in the Black Country, ‘A Most Peculiar Place’, an installation and exhibition; a film project with Geoff Broadway for the Olympics, ‘Raising the Sky’; the Atlantis project, work with Borderland and young people in Krasnogruda, Kėdainiai, Kaliningrad. He also gave some examples of work made by other artists he worked with in Laundry, an arts association based in the West Midlands of England. The session was translated by Levan Khetaguri.

The presentations at the Art Academy were organised with Nato Tskvitinidze from the Student Development Centre.

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In the afternoon the Head of Department of Culture, Irine Surmanidze, joined us for a tour of Gori (or Apsaros), one of the most important Roman fortified towns in ancient Colchis (Western Georgia). Though excavation date the earliest settlement of this area  to the 8th century BC, by the 2nd century AD it was a considerable Roman settlement. In the the sixteenth century it was occupied by the Ottomans and only rejoined Georgia in 1878. It has been a Museum since 1994. The fort is associated with the Apsyrtos, a Prince of Colchis who appears in the Greek epic poem ‘Argonautica’ – killed by Jason, he is supposed to be buried here. It is also believed to be the burial place of Saint Matthew, one of the original Apostles.

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After a final meeting in the evening to share and summarise our findings and thoughts, we finally depart to Tbilisi, an 8 hour rocky road trip mostly made by truckers heading to and from Turkey. (No sleep till Warsaw…)

An evening in Poti

After our final meetings in Tsalenjikha, our guides took us to the border crossing at Rukhi, where on the other side of the bridge is Abkhazia. This is still an area of palpable tension, and photographers are not particularly welcomed, even if you are only taking pictures of the shared sky over the dividing line of the Inguri river. Lines of people are passing back and forth, with limited permission to visit their families on the other side, carrying large plastic bags of various goods – one woman has a shopping bag with just one wheel, as she balances it she veers to one side and them the other, making her journey twice as long. A horse and cart passes a large metal sculpture of a pistol with the barrel twisted in a knot. It points toward Abkhazia and a line of Russian soldiers. (In August 2008, during the war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, Russian troops used Abkhazia to open another front with Georgia). There are very few vehicles negotiating the border – most people are on foot.

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As the sun sets we reach Poti and meet Tengiz Khukhia, General Manager of Poti State Drama Theater (and former participant of summer school), at the lighthouse on the shore where the Riuoni river enters the Black Sea. Here is the point, legend has it, the Argonauts made landfall before travelling into the interior. To the south, Lake Paliastomi, to the north the busy docks of the city. Behind us, Kundzuli cemetery and the Monastery named after the Iberin Holy Mother icon.

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We visited the Museum of Colchian Culture, which was originally built in 1907 for a merchant by a German architect. This was a time of expansion and modernisation of the city under the patronage of the mayor Niko Nikoladze (1894-1912). There is a considerable wealth of ancient artifacts gathered here, pre Roman and pre-Greek – though all the more valuable items are currently in storage in the vaults of bank, as the building is in need of much refurbishment. Here is also a room devoted to the story of the Argo, and information about a recreation of the legendary journey by writer and explorer Tim Severin. We are given a tour of the museum collections by the Director, Elene Gabliani.

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We then visited a former synagogue, which is being restored for use as a multi-cultural centre, and finally to the premises of the Valerian Gunia State Theatre. A stunning new 800 seater theatre for the company is currently being built in the centre of the town (the older one is in the picture below). The first theatrical performances in Poti date back to 1882, which were initiated by a local priest Kirile Macharashvili.

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To the West…

amilogoThe second part of the programme in Georgia consisted of visits to local organisations and projects which were either linked to the summer academy, or whom have an interest in future co-operation. Other members of the Borderland team (Bożena Szroeder, Michal Moniuszko, Malgosia Sporek-Czyżewska) joined us for this part of the journey, which was supported by Instytut Adama Mickiewicza.

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We began with a site trip to the archeological excavation site at Vani, in the hills outside the modern town – a repository of the ancient Colchian culture. Here they are building a new museum to house collections from between the 8th and 1st century BC, at which time the city was destroyed by fire. The city was associated with the cult of Dionysus. We were shown round by Omar Gabunia, the Director.

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There’s an interesting essay – ‘Vani Rich In Gold’ by Michael Vickers – which tells a fascinating story about the discoveries here. Download the pdf here… 

We then went to Tsalenjikha, a town in the Mkhare region of western Georgia.
Located on the river Chanistsqali, the town has with the population of 4000 in the town itself. Around 40000 people live in the wider municipality. Here, one of our summer school participants, Ani Gergedava, organises the European Academy – which works with young people, providing informal learning opportunities, language skills and mentoring.

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The town is the birthplace of the famous Georgian poet, Terenti Graneli (1901-1934) – we were given a tour of the museum dedicated to him.

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Introductory presentations and films about the Borderland School and project work were made to an audience at Tsalenjikha Municipality’s Art-Educational Centre. This was followed by dance, music and choral performances by the Ensembles “Lakada” and “Bedinera” – the head of these is Murtaz Tsimintia. Thanks to the organisers at the centre for such a splendid evening – in particular Tamar Kvaratsxelia, Head of the Centre, and Tamar Jangava and Miran Shanava.

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http://vimeo.com/79563367

The next day we visited the Inguri dam, the world’s highest arch dam – 272 metres tall with a length of 680 metres. Ordered built by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, construction began in 1961 and was completed in 1987. The Inguri river sits on the disputed borderline between Georgia and Abkhazia. Since breaking away from Georgia in 1992, Abkhazia has not been recognised by any government except for Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuea, Nauru and Tavalu and subject to a number of armed conflicts. The components of the Inguri river hydro electric complex – the dam and 5 power plants – are divided across both territories. This is an interesting example of a trans-boundary resource (planned in Soviet times to serve a wide region of one country) which is now both part of the border struggle and part of a necessary co-operation between two opposing states. In 2007, the dam was producing 46% of the total electricity supply in Georgia.

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In the afternoon Levan Khetaguri and Iuri Mgebrishvili from Ilia State University, Tbilisi, facilitated meetings with local representatives with the cultural management on urban and regional level, as well cooperation between Tsaledjikha and city Dusheti from Mtskheta-Mtianeti region.

Brendan Jackson led an issue-based workshop for young people at the European Academy. He made a presentation the development of his work as an artist and then shared the story of one project dear to his heart ‘Bedtime Stories’ – a project with young homeless which became a comic book used for peer education in schools and youth clubs in the UK. In the final part of the workshop the young people were presented with a challenge, to work in four small groups and create a storyline for a comic in just 15 minutes. He presented them with the opening line of the comic, which he took from Granelli. The line was ‘And I am afraid’ – from the poem ‘Drops of blood from my heart’. The groups presented their ideas back to each other – which were in turns funny, serious, sad and mythic. The session was translated by Sopio Elizbarashvili.

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aniSpecial thanks to Ani Gergedava, who organised our programme in the Tsalenjikha region. Here she is in front of the European Academy where our workshops took place (photo by Michal Moniuszko).

 

Sunday 10th November

Session 5: Planning an effective project budget

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The group concentrated on how to construct a budget for a project from scratch, using excel spreadsheets, looking at all the elements.

When evaluating costs, look at risk factors such as possible changes of costs (what if we have to pay for 12 people to do training instead of 6; what if the funder reduces the budget by 10% but they expect the same outcomes?)

‘It’s not accounting – it’s a way of verification.’ You know the number of people participating in your project, what it costs to feed them, how much travel is involved and what it costs, what materials will be used.

The budget really helps you see what is happening, to remind you of your goals.  For example, if your project is about integrating young people through sports and arts on a field trip to ski, and  you look at the budget and see the majority of the budget is actually going on flights it makes you think, is this the best way to achieve our aim.

A discussion followed of the types of roles needed for a project – for example, project manager roles, project co-ordinators, marketing and social media assistance.

Final Session
Weronika and Agnieska shared some thoughts of the progress of the local workshops in Minsk and Lviv, and the intention of these workshops to support the grant commissions. Once you submit the grant proposal for your project and if you are successful you will be able to deliver your project, but we are interested to look to support you in searching for other funds to realise our ambition.

The full details of the grant competition will be the end of January 2014 – we will tell you the deadlines. You will submit the proposal and we will be in contact with you to discuss it before we make a final decision. Don’t be discouraged if you are not the winner of this grant competition, as this is an opportunity to develop and test your ideas.

When you think about your activity, remember it has to be delivered between April and the end of October 2014, in order than final reporting and evaluation can be undertaken. We stress that it can be a small tightly defined project, or it can be the first phase (or pilot) of a larger project, but we want to see concrete and realisable proposals within the timeframe and budget.

We would also like you to note that is a huge willingness from Polish participants who are interested to develop future co-operation with groups here, so we will keep you informed of this.

Evaluation was then presented. Participants were invited to make frank comments and thoughts about the process of the workshops.

Brendan Jackson made a brief presentation about a project relevant to the discussions about working with museums and cultural institutions. He shared the example of a project at Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville, Leicestershire called ‘Transform’ and his role as one of four artists who began a two year programme to ‘transform people’s perceptions of what the museum offered’. He showed his project ‘Unearthing Stories’ , which engaged with museum staff and told the hidden stories behind objects in the collection, and ‘LifeCycle’ by Geoff Broadway (another artist who Brendan works closely with), a multi-screen audio-visual installation that explores the themes of change and transformation as they are understood and experienced by a range of people who live and work in the Coalville area.

To sum up, Krystof spoke about current discussions for a house for dialogue in Georgia and the potential links for the projects of participants. He also spoke about the future Borderland programme based on an exploration of the story of Medea and welcomed the involvement of participants – their suggestions and ideas were important to consider. There was some discussion about how the story was perceived in contemporary Georgia.