A nation is known, recognized and distinguished among the world nations by certain characteristic features. The highest and the greatest of these features is culture.

HEYDAR ALIYEV
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Summary of the Culture and Creative Industries Forum

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, "Creative Week" is held from November 27 to December 3. The purpose of the project, which was implemented in connection with the implementation of the "2022-2026 socio-economic development strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan" approved by the relevant order of the head of state, is to support the formation of cultural and creative industries as a single field and the activities of market participants, including the promotion of sectoral clustering.

The Culture and Creative Industries Forum was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center on November 28-30 as part of the rich program "Creative Week".

The forum was organized for the purpose of discussing the prospects of mutual cooperation and existing problems among the ecosystem players, and exploring the possibilities of comprehensive development of the creative industry.

The opening ceremony of the forum was held on November 28. State officials, representatives of relevant institutions, cultural workers, and other guests took part in the event.

First, the guests got acquainted with the Exhibition of Culture and Creative Industries (MY EXPO-2023), which was organized to promote creative products and activities of creative industry representatives during the forum.

The exhibition brought together creative clusters such as cinema, animation, music, cultech (startups in the field of culture), gametech (game technologies), fashion, and design, as well as creative spaces and regions.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of Culture Adil Karimli said that creative industries are one of the important fields of culture: "As the Ministry of Culture, we have announced the "Creative Week" from November 27 to December 3. Various events will be organized during the week. The Culture and Creative Industries Forum is also one of the main events of the week. Our expectation from the forum is to discuss various fields of creative industries, work on future challenges, and define our road map, just like other fields of culture.

The minister stated that the state has a special approach to this field. Culture and creative industries are given a special place in the "2022-2026 socio-economic development strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan" approved by the relevant order of President Ilham Aliyev. This is an indication ofthe importance of the field of culture and creative industry for the state: "We believe that the forum will be of great importance in this regard. The Culture and Creative Industries Exhibition is also organized during the Forum. The goal is to visually show the areas covered by culture, and creative industries.

It was pointed out that there will be discussions in 7 panels and 3 round tables will be held at the forum. The "Creative Talks" project will also be organized within the week. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of national leader Heydar Aliyev, a total of 100 events are planned to be held in 10 creative clusters in Guba, Baku, Sumgayit, Lankaran, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Mingachevir, Shaki, Shamakhi, and Shusha.

At the end of his speech, the minister wished the Forum success in its work.

First Deputy Minister of Economy Elnur Aliyev highly appreciated the importance of the forum dedicated to culture and creative industries, which is considered one of the new approaches for the country's economy, and expressed his gratitude to those who contributed to the organization of the project.

Fazil Mustafa, the Deputy Chairman of the Culture Committee of the Milli Majlis, spoke about the importance of the forums held by the Ministry of Culture in various fields of culture during the year. Such forums, he said, set a road map for stakeholders in relevant fields.

After the speeches, the forum continued its work with panel sessions.

***

The Culture and Creative Industries Forum continued its work after the opening ceremony on November 28 with a panel session entitled "Development of Cultural and Creative Industries Ecosystems: an International Perspective".

At the panel discussion moderated by Jahangir Salimkhanov, Adviser to the Minister of Culture, the new president of the International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, Aktotu Raimkulova, evaluated the appointment of the head of the organization as a result of the high attention paid to its activities and expressed gratitude to the state of Azerbaijan. Speaking about the activity of the Foundation, A. Raimkulova said that important work is being done to protect the material and moral heritage and history of the Turkic world.

The President of the Foundation highly appreciated the forum in terms of the exchange of thoughts and ideas in the relevant field, as well as revealing young talents.

Nargiz Hajiyeva, Director of the Local Office of the "British Council" organization, emphasized that the organization's "Creative Spark: Higher Education Program" project was successfully implemented. She said that "Creative Spark" is a five-year initiative aimed at supporting inter-university and institutional cooperation at the international level in order to develop business skills, and creative economy in a total of seven countries with the support of the United Kingdom.

Ornela Ramasauskaite, Executive Director of artXchange Global, a Lithuanian specialist in the art market, said that the creative and cultural industry is not only beauty, but also the economy. She shared her thoughts on ways to present Azerbaijan as the cultural capital of the Caucasus, changing society's view of the creative industries, and attracting investment. She said that the creative industry in Azerbaijan has multi-field activities, and for the development of this field, priorities should be determined first: management of the cultural field, cultural marketing education, strengthening of educational work, as well as state support for education in this field.

Daniar Amanaliyev, Chairman of the Creative Industries Association of Kyrgyzstan, gave information about the Creative Industrial Park operating in his country. He said that the creative economy is one of the most dynamically developing sectors of the world economy in recent years. D. Amanaliyev said that the creative industry networks of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan have been established. More than three thousand companies have already joined the network. The exchange of mutual experience has produced positive results, and a corresponding road map has been prepared in this area. Stating that the IT sector is the fastest -growing cluster in Kyrgyzstan, the expert pointed out that income in this field increases almost twice every year.

Tal Catran, an Israeli expert on international business and technologies, said that finance and skilled professionals are important factors for the development of the creative industry.

At the end of the panel, ideas were exchanged on the development of the creative industry, business support in this area, and the organization of creative people and business entities.

***

The next panel of the Culture and Creative Industries Forum was dedicated to the topic "Culture and Creative Industries: Export Potential, International Cooperation".

The head of the Creative Industries Council of Turkiye, Sertaç Eray Ersay, who spoke at the panel moderated by Araz Baghırli, the head of the Department for the Work with International Organizations of the Ministry of Culture shared his views on the impact of the creative field on the economy and the contributions that can be made to this field. He pointed out that the development of this field is directly related to human consciousness. He noted that the creative product is based on the human factor. Converting human skills into economic potential and using them is one of the most important issues at present.

Adviser to the Executive Director of the Export and Investment Promotion Agency (AZPROMO), Tural Hajili said that AZPROMO is currently working on a project to promote carpets in the field of the export of creative industries: "One of the most important points is education in the field of export organization. We need to create awareness programs in this regard. Because creative people should be helped in this direction."

Fakhri Eminov, an expert on digital transformation, said that the creative industry in Azerbaijan has been developing since 2010. He pointed out that the creation of an innovative business model has become a natural process. He said that the formation of legal framework, financial and innovative clusters is the main issue. Conducting training in relevant directions, and searching for investors can help in this matter.

Viktoriya Yurtayeva, the founder and head of the "Prima" public foundation of Kyrgyzstan, spoke about the classical music festival - "TENGRİ Music fest", which she created, and spoke about the impact of the project on the country's creative industry. She emphasized the importance of festivals, forums, exhibitions, fairs, and other events for the development of the creative industry.

At the end of the panel, issues such as modern business challenges of the creative industry, increasing the knowledge and skills of creative people related to entrepreneurial activity, problems, and the development of the sector were discussed, suggestions were made, and questions were answered.

***

In the last panel of the first day of the forum, the topic "Global art markets: current trends and opportunities for local art representatives" was discussed.

In the panel moderated by curator of art projects Emin Mammadov, artistic director of YARAT Modern Art Space, Farah Alakbarli, provided information about the projects implemented by the institution she represents in the field of painting.

The co-founder of "Ta(r)dino6" art platform, culture manager Asli Samadova (Azerbaijan, Italy) spoke about the Azerbaijani art school and the projects they implemented in order to promote art examples over the world.

Artist Faig Ahmed and art critic Mehpara Abbasova talked about the level of education and the level of scientific knowledge in the field in question. It was stated that propaganda should be carried out to increase attention and interest in this field in the regions. Although various organizations allocate grants, artists and galleries in the regions are not aware of these processes.

In the panel discussion, the issue of the participation of Azerbaijani artists in international exhibitions was also in focus. In this context, Moderator Emin Mammadov cited the example of the "Fly to Baku" modern Azerbaijani art exhibition organized jointly by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and "Baku" magazine. He said that the exhibition initiated by the Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Leyla Aliyeva, became an opportunity for a number of authors to be recognized in the international world. The exhibition created a unique opportunity to display the modern art of Azerbaijan in the capitals of 6 countries - London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, and Moscow. More than 100 works of 21 artists belonging to the elderly and middle generation were exhibited in the project.

In the panel session, discussions were held and questions were answered about the access and promotion of local art representatives to the world market.

The Culture and Creative Industries Forum will continue its work on November 29 with panel sessions and a round table.

***

The second day of the Culture and Creative Industries Forum organized by the Ministry of Culture within the framework of the "Creative Week", included three panel meetings on November 29.

The panel on "Innovation in the Field of Culture: Advanced Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and Game Technologies" was moderated by Marino Pasquale, an Italian expert and representative of the CultTech accelerator project.

Çağıl Özdemir, the founder of the German company "3dots", speaking at the panel, noted the importance of "Culttech" startups for technology, culture, and society in general. He said that thanks to startups, creators and consumers can potentially become empowered, provide mass access to culture, and develop new economic models. Because it is necessary to understand where the business world is going, meet people's expectations, and always be open to innovation.

Egle Trovato, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the Italian organization "Mae", also emphasized the importance of "Culttech" startups. He said that it differs from ordinary start-ups in a number of features: "We create an environment where people can get together, and share their thoughts and ideas. The goal should not be just business, even if it is one of the important points. First, people should exchange ideas about the innovation they want to organize, come up with creative proposals, and then take action. We must face the challenges in this field together."

Tara Wieckowska Merrigan, co-founder of Italian startup Proofcheck, said the creative industry has a lot of potential. She said that artificial intelligence is currently a hot topic and helps us in a number of projects: "However, I try to communicate with people more. Because we have to create a balance between humans and artificial intelligence, we have to be able to appreciate humans. It is possible to go further than our current situation, to increase our knowledge, and to take a step towards innovation with the power of humans and technology. There are some places where artificial intelligence is making people's lives easier, but other places have yet to take steps with this technology. We must learn and apply the possibilities of technology to make our lives easier and live in better conditions.

Sabina Atayeva, the founder of the "Luxout" company, noted that a few years ago, the population was reluctant to buy local model brands: "The situation has already changed. Now, we see that local brands are very popular among the population. This is something to be very proud of.

At the end of the panel, Director of the Events and Exhibitions Organization Department of the Heydar Aliyev Center Amina Malikova gave information about the exhibition "Uzun Hasan - the ruler of Akkoyunlus State" organized in the Center and invited the participants to visit the exhibition.

Later, the guests got acquainted with the exhibition.

***

On November 29, the next panel of the forum was dedicated to the topic "Formation of a Competitive Audiovisual Field in the Digital Age".

Animation expert Ogtay Yusibov, speaking at the panel moderated by the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Producers Guild, Fikrin Bektashi, shared his views on the development prospects of this field. He noted that children's emotions should be taken into account when making animated films.

Yelena Eyvazli, head of "Baku Blogging School", said that according to this year's report of "Global Digital", 5.44 billion people use mobile phones in the world. This is 68% of the world's population. The number of Internet users is estimated at 5.16 billion. That is, 64.4% of the world's population has access to the Internet. The number of social network users is 4.76 billion. This is close to 60% of the world's population.

Emrah Kılıç, Director of "Poetika" Film Production Company, founder of the "Diaspora" international short film festival, gave information about the mechanism of financial support for the audiovisual sector in Turkiye. He said that currently the technical level of Turkish films has reached world standards, and educated and talented representatives of film schools have begun to dominate this field.

Fehruz Shamiyev, Director of the Baku International Short Film Festival (BBQFF), Chairman of the Center for Young Cinematographers, gave information about the festival he is in charge of. He said that the most interesting ones are selected from among more than 1500 films sent from different countries of the world every year and included in the program of the festival. BBQFF is now a meeting place for dozens of foreign and local directors, producers, and screenwriters. The goal is to create special programs for the development of local and joint projects in the future.

Producer Zaur Mirzazadeh spoke about the support of the Ministry of Culture, the training program "Rise of Producers" organized by the Cinema Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ARKA) and the Azerbaijan Producers Guild, and the film project competition announced by ARKA.

Funda Demir Şen, the president of "Wediacorp Holding", emphasized in her speech on "Digital journey of audiovisual content" that it is possible to earn income from visual and audiovisual content on digital platforms through sales and licensing, advertising, subscriptions and memberships, donations and support.

After the speeches, questions related to the topic were answered, and ideas were exchanged about suggestions.

***

On the last panel of the second day of the forum, the topic "Development of the Design Industry" was discussed.

The head of "Safaroff Agency" Chingiz Safarov spoke about the development stages of the design industry at the panel moderated by the art director of "Coders" company Rasul Hasan. He said that nowadays digital design has developed more in the private sector: "Educational programs in the Azerbaijani language are being implemented in the field, relevant centers are operating. The main issue in this field is education. We hope that special attention will be paid to the development of design education in our universities."

Chairman of the Azerbaijan Design Association Rahim Ismayil provided information about the history of the establishment of the organization he leads and the directions of its activity.

Parviz Hamzayev, director of the Baku State Vocational Education Center said that the center, known as vocational school No. 5, carries out personnel training for creative industries. Emphasizing that personnel training is designed for the labor market, the speaker drew attention to the fact that personnel training in 28 specialties in the field of culture is carried out in the center. It was noted that camerawork, film editing, sound engineering, batik, fashion and cloth designing, make-up, carpet weaving, jewelry, etc. specialties are taught. The center also has two recording studios and inclusive classes.

After the speeches, ideas were exchanged on the development prospects of the design field, and questions were answered.

***

The last panel session of the forum took place on November 30.

The panel moderated by Nazli Ahmadova, a member of the Bar Association of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was dedicated to the topic "Culture and Creative Industries as a National Priority".

Deputy Minister of Culture Saadat Yusifova emphasized the importance of the "Creative Week" and the Culture and Creative Industries Forum held within the framework of this project. She noted that Azerbaijan's location on the historical "Silk Road", its constant openness to innovation, and its integration of various cultures have determined the high creative potential of our people.

It was reported that issues such as the development of the cultural and creative industries and increasing their share in the GDP were also reflected in the "Socio-economic Development Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2022-2026", approved by the order of President Ilham Aliyev dated July 22, 2022.

A working group on creative industries has been formed in the ministry to achieve the goals envisaged in the strategy. Representatives were appointed by other government agencies to support the group's activities. During the year, 5 local educational programs were launched, and for this purpose, the edu.creative.az information resource was created.

Currently, a creative education scholarship program and an electronic directory of local industry players are being developed. The events are mainly focused on the development of new creative products. The main goal is to create conditions for the realization of the industrial chain in the country, and to achieve a regional and international level of creative industrial products. In this direction, the support of other relevant state institutions is also needed in the preparation of the correct methodological framework and the formation of statistical indicators.

Samir Humbatov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (KOBIA), provided information about the activities of the agency in the field of the creative industry. He noted that KOBIA performs multifaceted activities in the direction of the development of the creative industry. The development of the creative industry in our country, business support, and organization of creative persons and business entities are important in this field.

The head of the Office of the Intellectual Property Agency, Khudayat Hasanli, shared his views on the role of intellectual property in the creative industry, the management of this field, and pointed out that successful reforms have been carried out in this direction in our country in recent years. It was noted that the necessary assistance is provided for creative people to start entrepreneurial activities, to increase the export potential of the sector, and to export creative products. In this process, cooperation between the public and private sectors is necessary for sustainable development.

Rashad Huseynov, deputy executive director of the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication , spoke about the modern business challenges of the creative industry, increasing the knowledge and skills of creative people related to entrepreneurial activity.

In the panel session, the questions of interest to the participants were answered, and opinions were exchanged on the proposed suggestions.

Thus, the three-day Culture and Creative Industries Forum ended its work.

The activities of the "Creative Week" (November 27 - December 3) organized by the Ministry of Culture continue.

 

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