Culture is an integral source of energy, and also contributes to the formation of the national characteristics of any people and serves as a spiritual bridge of rapprochement, notes the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. An important feature in the implementation of state policy in the field of culture is the holding of events at the international level.
Consistent work is being carried out to expand the range and improve the quality of cultural services, improve their coverage of the population, update the repertoires of creative teams, museum and library funds, and coordinate the activities of cultural institutions. Today, there are 10 state theaters in the country, six of which are located in the capital, one circus, two film and concert centers, 36 state museums, state libraries: State Library of Turkmenistan, State Children's Library named after B. Amanov, Library for the blind and deaf (3 branches and 1 collection point for books), Network of centralized libraries of Ashgabat (1 center, 21 branches). Also, in each region there are main regional libraries and several libraries under the Ministry of Culture.
In 2020, comprehensive work was carried out to strengthen the material and technical base of the cultural industry and promote digitalization, improve the professional level of creative workers, and create modern meaningful and highly artistic works.
In accordance with the “Programme of Development of the Sphere of Culture in Turkmenistan for 2019 – 2025” initiated by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the work is underway to improve the activities of theaters, cinema and concert centers, libraries, museums, art schools, houses of culture, state historical and cultural reserves. Over the past year, the concerts of masters of arts, exhibitions of works of fine and decorative arts, museum values, photo exhibitions, creative meetings, festivals, competitions and conferences were held, including those in the online format.
Work was carried out to prepare documents for the inclusion of national values of global importance in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In this series - documentation and videos demonstrating the process of making a dutar (national musical instrument with two strings) and the features of playing this musical instrument.
In addition, the necessary information was collected to be included in the respected List of UNESCO of the nomination “The Cultures of Growing and Breeding Akhal-Teke horses”. And at present, the relevant organizational work is being carried out to include the “National experience of the upbringing of the Turkmen Alabai dogs” in this List.
In 2020, as part of the cultural program of the year “Turkmenistan - Homeland of Neutrality”, an international conference and photo exhibition under the same name was organized in Ashgabat, including the works of domestic and foreign photographers and correspondents. Representatives of Russia, China, Korea, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Uzbekistan and other countries took part in the conference held in the mode of video communication.
In May, a demonstration of the exposition of Turkmenistan was held at the Beijing Peace Garden Museum, which was held as part of an exhibition timed to coincide with the International Day of Museums. The show was organized by the China Peace Foundation in cooperation with the Beijing International Foundation for the Culture of Peace, the China Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and other public organizations. The slogan of the year “Turkmenistan - the Homeland of Neutrality” was the conceptual idea of the Turkmen stand.
The constructive policy of interstate relations of Turkmenistan with partners in the international arena is reflected in interaction in the field of information exchange. An example of this is the Memorandum on Cooperation in the Field of Exchange of News Materials, signed between the State News Agency of Turkmenistan (TDH) and the Republican Unitary Enterprise “Belarusian Telegraph Agency”. During the year, TDH also established partnerships with other major news agencies. On November 9, a Memorandum on News Exchange was signed with the largest news agency in India, Asian News International (ANI).
Along with archaeological expeditions organized by the National Directorate for the Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments of Turkmenistan, the search for unexplored objects is underway. As a result, many unregistered monuments were discovered, which are now recorded. Thus, if earlier the total number of monuments that are in the State Register of National Historical and Cultural Heritage of Turkmenistan was 1397, now there are 1422 of them.
The last decade of June is the time of honoring the representatives of national culture, celebrating their professional holiday. Traditionally, the Week of Culture was timed to coincide with the Day of Workers of Culture and Art, as well as the poetry of Makhtumkuli Fraghi, which is held annually in different regions of the country. Cultural Week of 2020 was held in the Dashoguz region.
On June 28, in the capital’s Mizan center, a ceremony was held to honor workers of art with honorary titles of Turkmenistan, as well as to present the awards of the President of Turkmenistan to the winners of the “Türkmeniň Altyn Asyry” competition among literary, cultural and artistic workers, young performers and gifted children. Among the winners of the competition for the above prize was the grandson of the head of state – Kerimguly Berdimuhamedov. He was awarded for his talented musical compositions and active participation in the creative life of the country. The honorary title “Honored Artist of Turkmenistan” in accordance with the Decree of the head of state was awarded to the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ozodbek Nazarbekov.
In honor of the Independence Day on August 29 in Ashgabat, the final round of the TV competition “Ýaňlan, Diýarym!” was held. On September 5, the closing of the national competition for young vocalists “Garaşsyzlygyň merjen däneleri” took place at the Mukam Palace located in the capital.
The unique event of the year was the publication of the new work of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “The Spiritual World of Turkmen”. This work became a wonderful creative gift from the leader of the nation to his compatriots on the occasion of the Independence Day of the country.
This work was first translated into Chinese. The presentation of the book in Chinese took place on October 7 in the conference hall of the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, and on October 29, the Embassy of Turkmenistan to the People’s Republic of China held a presentation in place.
On November 19, a festive presentation of the book of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “The Spiritual World of Turkmen” published in Japanese was held at the Oguz Han University of Engineering and Technology.
In honor of the International Day of Neutrality and the 25th anniversary of the country’s neutrality status, a number of events were organized by the country’s external policy agency, including the presentation of the book “The Spiritual World of the Turkmen” in Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani languages. Immediately after the holiday, their number was replenished with translations of this work of the leader of the nation into Turkish, Arabic, and French.
An example of fruitful international cooperation was the online ceremony of presenting special equipment to representatives of the State Circus of Turkmenistan on behalf of the US Government and people, which was held at the Ministry of Culture on September 22. This action, carried out by the Embassy of the United States of America jointly with the International Center “Meridian”, was timed to coincide with the 29th anniversary of the Independence of Turkmenistan.
On October 16, during the meeting of the Government, it was noted that at present, the UNESCO Secretariat registered a nomination for the entry into the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the “Craft of making dutar, the performing musical art of playing it and the art of bakhshi”. These issues are expected to be considered at a meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is scheduled for November 2021. At the same time, work on the preparation of a nomination for the inclusion of Ashgabat in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is at the final stage. The goal of this Network, created in 2004 and now uniting 180 cities, is to develop multilateral cooperation and exchange of experience between cities of the world.
Within the framework of interaction with the above-named organization, work has also been established to prepare, in accordance with the international standards of UNESCO, nominations for inclusion in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the nominations “The Art of training Akhal-Teke horses” and “Experience of upbringing Turkmen Alabai,” which are the national treasures of the Turkmen people.
In order to improve the work of the National Commission for the Activities of UNESCO, on October 23 President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a Resolution approving the composition of the above-named Commission and the Guidelines on it.
The draft Action Plan provides for preparation for inclusion into the UNESCO Global Creative Cities Network of Ashgabat in the creative field “Design” and Turkmenabat in the field of “Crafts and Folk Art”, and in the future the city of Mary - in the field of Literature; as well as opening of special courses at the Faculty of Archeology of the Turkmen State University named after Makhtumkuli for teaching UNESCO standards in the development of historical cities. In addition, other projects are possible in the field of culture, education, science, sports, youth policy, etc.
It is also planned to create a UNESCO department in the institutions of higher education of Turkmenistan, and in the future to include the secondary schools in Turkmen cities in the International Network of UNESCO Associated Schools. Introduction of the nomination of Turkmenistan “Craft of making dutar and traditional musical performing art in combination with singing” into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO is scheduled for the end of 2021, when a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will be held at UNESCO headquarters.
The publication of the new book of the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “Turkmen Alabai” became yet another gift for the Turkmen people, revealing the role of these wonderful dogs in the life and fate of Turkmen people. It should also be noted that on the eve of the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the country’s independence, the first issue of the magazine “Türkmeniň nusgalyk alabaýy” (“Exemplary Turkmen Alabai”) was published.
On October 20, the international creative meeting of theater directors from the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States, held in an online format, was timed to the 25th anniversary of the permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan. The video forum, organized with the assistance of the International Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS member states, was attended by cultural figures, famous directors and artistic directors of the country's leading theaters, as well as from Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
On November 18, the delegation of Turkmenistan took part in the XXXV meeting of the Council for Cultural Cooperation of the CIS member states held in the videoconference mode. The issues of intensification of cultural exchange, the progress of the main measures of cooperation of the CIS member states in the field of culture for 2016–2020, as well as organizational work for the implementation of these events in 2021–2025 were discussed.
Festive December was notable for its special creative intensity. Achievements in the field of culture were presented during the International Exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the country’s neutral status. On December 2, at the Ministry of Culture, a meeting was held by video link with the Secretary General of the International Organization of Turkic Culture - TURKSOY Dusen Kaseinov. At the end of the official part, vocalists and members of choreographic ensembles from different countries of the Turkic world: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, performed while greeting and congratulating the Turkmen people. The regions of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Sakha-Yakutia were connected from the Russian Federation. The Moldovan autonomy - Gagauzia - has also joined the cultural action. Together they created the Kushtepdi video festival.
The international creative video bridge continued on December 4 at the Makhtumkuli National Music and Drama Theater, linking the Turkmen capital with the Austrian city of Vienna. The event dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan's neutrality highlighted the importance of the humanitarian component in the foreign policy of the head of state Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
It was noted at the meeting that the concerts of the “Galkynyş” orchestra, Vienna balls became an adornment of the cultural life of Turkmenistan and a visiting card of the bilateral humanitarian dialogue. On the same day, the International Scientific Conference “Neutral Turkmenistan-UNESCO: International Cooperation in the Field of History and Culture”, organized by the Institute of Language, Literature and National Manuscripts named after Makhtumkuli and the Institute of History and Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of the country, was held in Ashgabat via video link.
On December 5, a solemn presentation of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s book “Turkmenistan - Homeland of Neutrality” was held at the Makhtumkuli National Music and Drama Theater and was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the country's status of permanent Neutrality.
On December 12, at the Mukam Palace of the State Cultural Center, on the occasion of the International Day of Neutrality and the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan's status of permanent Neutrality, a festive concert of masters of arts was held. On December 19, Ashgabat hosted the closing of the “Ýylyň parlak ýyldyzy” competition among the country’s young vocalists.
On December 24, representatives of libraries from all regions of the country and employees of the National Library of Armenia gathered at the online conference to exchange experience.
Thus, the cultural activities of 2020 harmoniously formed a single complex and effectively reflected the successes achieved by Turkmenistan, which has stepped into the year 2021 under the slogan “Turkmenistan - Homeland of Peace and Trust”. This also helped to highlight the stages of country's development, as well as to tell extensively about the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Turkmen people and their traditions.