Taking stock of the present to build the future: the hall was full of creative people, a spirit of innovation was in the air. Hosted by Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) for a full day event on the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI), they came together to collectively design a vision. Where do we see Armenia ten years down the road in the CCI’s?

Contemporary art and education, design and architecture, photography and communication – these were the main topics of “Building Industry: Creative Tomorrow” conference. How to boost creativity and innovation in sectors vital for the development of the country? The AGBU event carried out in partnership with the British Council, the German GIZ and other organizations were moderated by Marine Mkhitaryan, the head of the UNDP’s Kolba Innovations Lab. She is positive that the future, in terms of competitiveness, is going to well belong to creative industries, because creative mind and innovation skills cannot be replaced by robots or mechanized.

“The goal of the Conference is to get to know the specifics and the players of the industry, define the algorithm of development and the transferring values. Thus, referring to creative education, Anna Mikayelyan, the founder of Nexus Art Center, presented how the children are being taught to be creative, what skills they acquire. Likewise, in architecture: what public spaces and ecosystems do we need to build a creative community or a city? Or what messages does the contemporary art convey to citizens for becoming more creative, daring and free while thinking about the future?” points out Marine Mkhitaryan.

The future gets to us in leaps. Creative industries help us to be able to project those leaps. During the discussion hosted by AGBU one thing was irrevocably accepted by all: Armenians are particularly creative when solving engineering problems. However, we need “creative wilds” with their audacious ideas.

To reveal that potential, AGBU Armenia Executive Director Talar Kazanjian suggests to look for people and ideas necessary for Armenia also in the Diaspora.

“This AGBU initiative is just the first step in the long process of building a creative future for Armenia. We are trying to assess what impact will the development of creative industries have on competitiveness of local production, new jobs creation and overall development of the country’s economy. To build the creative industry we are also going to tap into the pan-Armenian creative mind. Our desire is for AGBU to become the hub of the creative future for Armenia and the Diaspora,” says Talar Kazanjian.

The participants in the discussion entitled “Creative Future” do not have a clear answer to “How?”. But one thing is for sure - education is the place to start from. Dalar Kazanjian considers it a priority: “Thinking of education for CCIs, we imply teaching how to develop a concept for a creative product, how to convert that concept into a business plan, how to package and pitch this business plan to financing institutions and individual investors, how to get it to the consumer market, and finally, how to promote the Armenian trademarks and the country branding internationally. This whole chain is important. There are many gaps in Armenia in this regard, and AGBU works to find solutions and help to bring them to life”.

Radical changes in the education system will help us create a new, quality, creative society. Founder of “Lusadaran” art critic Vigen Galstyan believes that elimination of the social divide between arts people and the society will be a solution.

”Arts people are nowadays cut off from the society. The reasons are many: social and economic, educational, political. After the collapse of the Soviet Union art people do not understand who and what they work for. And the society has also forgotten what role do art people play in social processes.”

Vigen Galstyan is convinced that all the problems are interconnected. “Now we must educate not so much the arts people, but the audience and the consumers, to become more sophisticated and demanding when watching films, performances, visiting exhibitions. Educated and knowledgeable society thus will be open for innovation and creativity.”

Having great ideas is not enough, one should be able to also materialize them. The first “Creative Future” meeting at AGBU was wrapped up in efficient discussions. The organizers hope to see the expressed thoughts and proposed ideas transformed into the far-reaching projects and initiatives. The next CCIs meeting at AGBU will be much expanded and will yield practical outcomes.




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