Protecting Tbilisi’s Cultural Heritage
On May 9, the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) and Tiflis Hamkari organized a civic festival in Tbilisi to inform citizens about the status of rehabilitation works taking place in Gudiashvili and Orbeliani squares. The festival started with an educational session about the history of Gudiashvili square and then continued on to Betlemi Street. This was a closing event for the EWMI ACCESS-funded project that aimed to improve the transparency and efficiency of the cultural heritage management system in Tbilisi.
How effectively does the Tbilisi Development Fund (the major entity responsible for construction and rehabilitation works in Tbilisi) spend its budgetary funds, and how transparent are its operations? Who is involved in the supervision and approval of cultural heritage preservation and rehabilitation projects? What are the opportunities for citizen engagement in these processes? To answer these questions, GYLA and Tiflis Hamkari studied the practice of protecting cultural heritage monuments in Tbilisi and the operations of the relevant public agency. GYLA assessed the transparency and accountability of the Tbilisi Development Fund while Tiflis Hamkari monitored the restoration works in Gudiashvili and Orbeliani squares. Reports of both studies with specific recommendations were presented to and shared with the relevant decision-makers.
Apart from the research component, the project invested largely in a public awareness-raising campaign: an urban tour and a series of lectures were held for journalists and media representatives to raise their awareness of cultural heritage protection standards and the problem of chaotic construction in Tbilisi’s historical districts. The project team also held door-to-door meetings with residents of Old Tbilisi to inform them of their rights and provide legal consultations as needed.
Photo/video materials about the civic festival can be found here.