Tag Archives: culture

On 28 September, the official opening of European Heritage Days 2019 took place at Amberd fortress, Aragatsotn marz, organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia jointly with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport of the Republic of Armenia. The theme of this year was “Arts and Entertainment”. The EU Ambassador to Armenia, Andrea Wiktorin, and the RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, Arayik Harutyunyan, opened the event and held a press briefing with journalists.

Ambassador Wiktorin spoke of the importance of cultural heritage: “We are happy to visit here again and see the wonderful Amberd fortress. This fortress is one of the jewels of your country. The EU attaches great importance to cultural heritage, as we think it is one of the ways which can unite us. For years, the EU Delegation to Armenia has supported the implementation of European Heritage Days in Armenia and I am extremely grateful for our cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport”.

Minister Harutyunyan was excited to launch European Heritage Days: “Amberd is one of our most important historical and cultural sites. I am glad that a number of events will be organised in different places in Armenia for European Heritage Days. It is a great opportunity to present the present and the past of Armenia’s cultural heritage. As for our general cooperation, we are implementing a number of projects with the EU to marry culture with entrepreneurship, in which we have had some success”.

European Heritage Days this year has featured various cultural events, concerts, video shows, marches, literature and music events, educational, and interactive programmes. These events have involved more than 100 Armenian cultural organisations.

European Heritage Days are held annually in the 50 European countries which joined the European Cultural Convention (1954). The idea appeared in France, in 1984, under the motto “Monuments’ Open Doors”. The “European Heritage Days” programme was officially established by the Council of Europe in 1991, and the European Commission joined the programme in 1999. This initiative started under the motto “Europe: A Common Heritage”. Annually, more than 70,000 cultural events are held throughout Europe to increase public awareness about European heritage, to emphasise its uniqueness and diversity, and the importance of its preservation.

Amberd is a former fortress built in the 10th century. It is located in Aragatsotn marz, on the north-eastern slope of Mount Aragats. There are ruins of cyclopean masonry and fish-like obelisks at Amberd and the surrounding area. As a result of excavations, various metal items, weapons, jewellery, ceramics, coins, and other materials of high cultural value have been found; these are key to studying and understanding the economy, military and cultural life of medieval Armenia. Vahramashen church, which was built under the sponsorship of the Prince and Sparapet (Commander) Vahram Pahlavouni in 1026, is located near Amberd.


On 17 February, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, made a one-day working visit to Gyumri, Shirak region. The day began with official meetings with Hovsep Simonyan, the Governor of Shirak region, and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri. The parties discussed development priorities for the region and the city, focusing on the cultural and creative sectors.
Later on, at a press conference, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the €1 million Grant Scheme for Regional Development. This is aimed at ensuring economic growth, creating jobs and reducing emigration by promoting culture and the creative sector in Shirak region.

ARS_7522The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the project, especially in Shirak region: ‘Gyumri is one of the best places to launch a project to develop the economy through culture. Gyumri has cultural potential and huge capacity. The EU is very adamant to promoting regional development in Armenia. We believe that one of the obstacles confronting Armenia is the imbalance between the capital and the regions. In order to develop successfully and in a sustainable way, this gap should be filled. Therefore, we believe that the EU Delegation to Armenia should be orientated towards the purpose of regional development’.

This grant scheme is the second call for proposals under the Pilot Regional Development Programme Grant Scheme (PRDP GS). The overall objective of PRDP GS is to create more economic opportunities in the Armenian regions.The first call for proposals was published in September 2015 and 7 PRDP grant contracts were signed with the EU and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration as a result. Project implementation started at the beginning of this year.
The second call for proposals will select one or two additional regional projects focused on culture and innovation for funding. Eligible organisations from all regions can apply if they find a suitable regional partner from the target region.
The available budget for this second call for proposals is almost €1 million, of which €700,000 is provided by the European Union and €175,000 by the Armenian government. Applicants have to provide a minimum of 10% in co-financing themselves. Selected projects should be implemented within a maximum of 24 months. The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 24 March 2017. Full project proposals will be elaborated only by short-listed candidates.

ARS_7862In the evening, Ambassador Świtalski, Governor Simonyan and Mayor Balasanyan met again at a concert of classical music. The concert entitled ‘Culture and Development: Building Bridges’ marked the launch of the grant scheme which will promote the development of cultural and creative sectors in Shirak region.

On 24 September the EU Delegation to Armenia together with the Armenian Ministry of Culture, launched European Heritage Days in Armenia with a press conference and cultural programme at the Metsamor Historical-Archeological Museum. This year’s programme was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. The Days passed under the motto “Heritage and Communities”. The choice of Metsamor was symbolic as, since 2013, a joint Polish-Armenian archaeological project has uncovered a plethora of Bronze Age and Iron Age artifacts in that location. “Armenia’s active participation in _mg_0323European Heritage Days carries special significance, because Armenia is one of the cradles of European culture and civilisation. For centuries and millennia Armenia has been a gate to Europe through which different influences and cultures have entered. Armenians can be very proud of their heritage and their cultural contribution to the common identity of Europe. We, as the EU, would like to work together with the Armenian government and Armenian people to strengthen and develop the cultural links between Armenia and the European family”- said in his opening speech Ambassador Piotr Świtalski.
During the two European Heritage Days over 100 governmental and private museums, libraries, cultural organisations hosted events and opened their doors to the public free of charge – even monuments usually closed to the public had open-door days. Numerous exhibitions, concert, meetings, literary seminars and musicals were organised for the citizens and guests of Armenia.
“Armenian cultural heritage belongs of that of Europe; this is not only in our hearts and minds, but also expressed through our ratification of the 1954 European Cultural Convention” comments the Armenian Deputy Minister of Culture, Arev Samuelyan.


On 4 December 2015 the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Culture and Creativity Programme, supported by the European Union in Armenia, was officially launched at the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts. The programme is aimed at making culture and creativity a source of income by taking the experiences of European countries into account.
The programme will be implemented in 6 EaP countries; Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan. While it is a regional programme, it will be heavily country focused. The programme will run for three years with a budget of €4.2 million.
12341170_932400963480500_3536446454691660206_nThe Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski, congratulated the programme launch and noted that Armenians had been precious to European heritage. The Ambassador recommended that participants to make best use of this opportunity, make as many European friends as possible, and develop contacts to help them be part of a bigger European family: ‘Armenians are part of European heritage, a very precious part. We at European Union Delegation would like to put special emphasis on having open windows, open channels, and open doors linking Armenia with the cultural developments in the European Union, because it is part of your identity’.
The culture and creativity sub-sector supports 7% of international GDP income. Cultural and creative industries are growing faster than manufacturing and services. The culture and creative sub-sectors include architecture, archives, libraries and museums, arts and crafts, audiovisual media (film, television, video games and multimedia), tangible and intangible cultural heritage, design, festivals, music, literature, performing arts, publishing, radio, and visual arts. The number of young employees in these sectors in EU countries is the highest; indeed, they are now the third biggest employer in the region. If the profit of the culture and creativity sub-sectors in Great Britain is €11 million per hour, then it can offer Armenia considerable incentive to develop these sectors.
The Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Programme will support policy development and capacity building in these sectors. Programme activities will be carried out through workshops, intensive training, online learning platforms, study visits and partnership fairs, bringing together public and private actors, government and civil society.
Following a competitive tendering process, the programme will be managed by a consortium led by the British Council, in partnership with Soros Foundation Moldova, the National Centre for Culture of Poland, and the Goethe Institut. The Programme builds on the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme I (2011-2014), that consisted of technical assistance and grant-funded projects.

The EU Delegation to Armenia has a history of inviting interesting guests to Armenia to give masterclasses in conjunction with Europe Day celebrations. This year was no exception, with a particular focus on music. All musicians, music producers or singers from Armenia had the opportunity to gain insight into the secrets of the European music industry and into how to cooperate with other European musicians through a masterclass given by the world-famous British music producer, Christian Ulf-Hansen.
10422114_846520318735232_8536478035303809859_nChristian Ulf-Hansen is the founder of the Plan C management company, as well as founder and co-owner of a TV and film production company. He started his career in the music business in London in 1981 at the age of 19, and you cannot imagine the route it took! In 1992, Ulf-Hansen was recruited by the US organisation BMI to take on a pan-European role, which he filled for 8 years. In 2002 he decided to branch out on his own into management/consultancy with his initial client, Teitur, and several writers and producers. He recently expanded his field of operation into film and television production with a well-known actor/producer, which currently co-produces animated TV series for children as well as films.
Ulf-Hansen started the masterclass with by describing his lengthy career path in the music industry. However, he also gave an interview to us, in which he spoke more on his knowledge of music, Armenian artists and also what he understood by Europe-Armenia cooperation.

What is the most important thing in your production that you usually share with your students?
Passion. Passion and honesty. I am an emotionally driven person, but I think all we are. I think everyone here will be driven by music in some moments of their life. You remember the song when you fall in love with someone; you remember the song when you kiss someone. Songs have a special role in everyone’s life. One, two, three thousand songs in our life and that’s the reason why the songs communicate. When you create and record a song you must think about that communication as well – that is what you are looking for. If you can take those little moments and replicate them in some way, that is actually what you need… It’s difficult to find, but it is all about the emotion, about the happiness and sadness, when you capture those moments and make them into song.
Can you tell a little bit about your cooperation with European musicians?
I’ve been in this business from a very young age. I started to work with a guy from Faroe islands and took him to America; he won a Grammy award and became popular. I am international [which has also contributed]: my father was half Danish and half Russian and was born in China; my mother was English; I used to work for an American company. Music is all about how you communicate with each other.
Do you know anything about Armenian music?
Very little, I only know Armenians who are in the music industry. Among them is Charles Aznavour, System of a Down, Cher… There was an Armenian rapper in London in the 1980s, his name was Blade. He is retired now but I helped him in his career many years ago. I didn’t do any research before coming here, I wanted to come and be surprised.
What is the most important thing for an artist you work with?
For the artist it is voice and song! You can find an artist with good voice and give them a good song. You can find an artist with a bad voice and give them a good song, but he still will be an artist with bad voice. The artist should also carry emotion, depth. When you hear the voice, you say “OMG”. Ultimately, a voice that “works”.
What advice you can give to Armenian songwriters who want to cooperate with European artists?
You have the power of the internet. If you are a songwriter, go on Google, find out who the manager or producer of the star you want to work with is. Send them your song, write them a letter. Or choose the right labels, they are looking for a good stuff. Remember, though, that they don’t like spam.
Do you imagine that you can cooperate with Armenians?
You know, all my colleagues and friends know that I am in Armenia. And if I find something and bring it with me to London, it will be amazing. I will go to my workplace and say, you know I brought a song from Armenia and all of them will say “wow”, because Armenia is very different for us, you are not similar to other countries. Your country is kind of exotic for others.
What is your motto in your working process?
If I fall in love with something, I will make others fall in love with it too.

Participants in the masterclass did not want to miss their chance to bring their songs with them and play them to Ulf-Hansen. The producer listened to all of them and gave advice. Who knows, perhaps this might have been the beginning of possible cooperation?

The official launch event of the “Single Cross-border Visitor package” (SCBV), developed within the framework of the programme called “Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism” (PIRT) took place on 19 March 2015. PIRT is a regional project aimed at supporting regional cooperation and cross-border partnerships for economic and social development in four Black Sea Basin countries via the promotion of rural tourism.
The project is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by Heifer Armenia (as lead organisation) with partners from Bulgaria (Varna Economic Development Agency), Georgia (Heifer Georgia) and Turkey (Gumushane National Educational Directorate).
A unique tourist package has been developed as part of the project including up to ten rural tourism-related itineraries. Tourist agencies in Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Bulgaria will have the opportunity to sell this new product. Tourists buying SCBV will be able to travel through all four countries with the one package. SCBV will increase the visitor flows on the regional level and contribute to unprecedented cooperation between national authorities in the region and intra-country, aimed ultimately at sustaining the cross-border impacts of rural tourism. Anahit Ghazanchyan, PIRT Project Coordinator, introduced the details of the project, and presented the website and short films advertising the package.
Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, confirmed the EU’s willingness to support Armenia in its development: ‘I am delighted that the activities of this project will result in stronger regional partnerships and cooperation through integrated utilisation of physical and human resources, and the exchange of best practices aimed at enhancing the standards of touristic products and service delivery. All this will contribute to the economic and social development of the Black Sea Basin region, which is a key objective of the EU’s European Neighbourhood Instrument’.
Armen Harutyunyan, Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, mentioned in his speech that many efforts had been made to ensure the project’s success: ‘This project targets not only the development of tourism but also regional relations with our counterparts. Our region is unique – Armenia is unique in terms of its rich heritage, history, and culture – and we have to demonstrate this to the whole world. These kinds of undertakings allow us to showcase the many advantages Armenia possesses’.
Partners and guests from Bulgaria, Georgia and Turkey participated in the event, which was flavoured with regional folk music, as well as displays of national and traditional products and art. Representatives from Armenian ministries, partner governments, foreign missions and embassies, and international and local partner organisations were also invited.
PIRT is co-financed by the European Union through €473,000 in assistance from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The programme started in November 2013, and is projected to last for 18 months. It will establish cooperation among Black Sea Basin region countries (Armenia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Georgia). Rural tourism is a particular focus – joint efforts of all the parties are promoting initiatives to exploit common, traditional and innovative tourism opportunities.

On 7 November partner companies from Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Greece announced the official opening of the Black Sea Silk Road Corridor. This corridor is a 3,000 kilometre-long tourist trail that stretches from Thessalonica to Meghri. The project is being carried out by the Armenian Monuments Awareness Project (AMAP) human development NGO, with financial support from the EU’s Black Sea basin programme. Activities in Armenia are also co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). An exhibition of regional and local crafts, foods and traditional music was held during the launch event, which presented all the countries involved in the project.

Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea expressed his excitement about the overall project and its achievements: ‘This project proves that the EU supports the regional development of the corridor and the cooperation of countries surrounding the Black Sea. Such cooperation is an integral part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, which aims to bring countries closer, stimulate social and economical development, address common challenges, and promote people-to-people contact’.

The Deputy Minister of Culture, Arev Samuelyan, highlighted the importance of the project as it fosters cultural and educational development of the corridor and the role of AMAP NGO: ‘Cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and AMAP has resulted in numerous benefits for cultural development. In recent years AMAP has installed multilingual information screens in venues of cultural and historical heritage. Since 2008, over 400 information screens and 352 direction signs have been installed at 173 monuments’. She added that, on 25 April 2013, an agreement on installing information screens was signed between the Ministry of Culture and AMAP. Within the scope of this agreement, AMAP then created mobile applications and screens for hundreds of Armenian monuments.

The “Black Sea Silk Road Corridor” project involves four countries in the Black Sea basin: Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Greece. The project is aimed at enhancing visitors’ experiences of those sites and monuments, including natural parks, archaeological sites, and cultural monuments that exhibit the artistic genius of former generations. Visitors can intensify that experience through contemporary culture – museums, galleries, theatre, music, local cuisine and a number of different attractions.

10710621_752053211515277_7571311299614096623_nUS Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern noted the project as an important contribution to the development of regional cooperation and culture: ‘When you look at the map of involved countries, you can see that there are more common features than differences between these countries. Additionally, I would like to highlight what wonderful sights I have seen in Armenia and how glad I am that the applications developed will make them available to visitors from all over the globe(http://www.blackseasilkroad.com/en/)’.

There are plans to extend the project to reach Italy on the West and Bulgaria and Romania on the North.
Richard Ney, the President of AMAP, introduced the launch of the “BRIDGES” project, a new USAID-funded tourism initiative that will focus on economic and cross-border development between Armenia and eastern Anatolia. The project will foster the creation of a network of Armenian and Turkish tour operators, the identification and the creation of an inventory of shared touristic experiences, and the promotion of the area as an attractive tourism destination.

On 24 October the city of Metsamor celebrated the diversity of nations. A cultural event was organised within the framework of the EU-funded project on “Equal opportunities for implementation of cultural rights for national minorities and vulnerable groups: wealth through diversity”.
The project was launched in February 2012 with the aim of ensuring cultural diversity and supporting the preservation of the culture of national minorities through raising the capacity of local administration bodies, organisations and cultural institutions in Armenia and Ukraine. The event was organised at Metsamor’s cultural centre, which had been re-equipped as part of the project. As part of the celebration, two musical ensembles from Metsamor, “Spring” and “Sunflower”, performed songs from all national minorities living in Armenia.Spring

During the implementation of the project, 20 target communities have been selected in Armenia and Ukraine, active community groups have been formed, capacity-raising training courses have been organised, and programmes for cultural development have been devised.

Kristi Daigma

EU representative Kristi Raidma highly appreciated the project’s performance and the work done: ‘The European Union is proud of its diversity and the people supporting it. This is why we are promoting cultural development in the six countries of the Eastern Partnership. A vivid example of this support and cooperation is the performance we saw today’.

The Head of Civic Development & Partnership Foundation (CDPF), Armen Ghalumyan, thanked all the partners that had contributed to the project and made it possible: ‘We provided small grants to two NGOs that have worked with children and planted seeds of love and respect towards neighbours and their cultures’.

Sunflower Ghalumyan

Additionally, a grant competition was announced for the implementation of the project in Armenia and the Kiev region of Ukraine. This grant competition is aimed at promoting local non-trade organisations’ cultural initiatives. Grant funds for projects range between AMD 500,000-2,500,000.

This project was implemented by CDPF, civil society development NGO “NGO Centre”, and the “GURT resource centre” from Ukraine with financial support from the EU. It will last until December 2014.