Placeholder canvas

Museum, Culture Ministry in Fresh Research Grants Controversy

The Ministry of Culture is facing yet another controversy after the Directorate of Georgian National Museum system refused to accept all 13 research project grants from the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation, allegedly because the projects include controversially dismissed outspoken employees.

At a press conference on February 11, Eka Kiknadze, one of the project authors, accused Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani of discriminating against people “she simply does not like.”

Kiknadze, who managed the Museum of Fine Arts before her demotion and subsequent firing in January, asserted that the Directorate of the National Museum system failed to present “rational arguments” to justify declining the grants.

She stressed that the Rustaveli Foundation, run by the Ministry of Education, is the only additional source of financing available to researchers in the field of culture.

The notice of the Directorate of Georgian National Museum to the Rustaveli Foundation, dated February 9, was published online by Sulkhan Saladze, former head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, veteran watchdog.

Saladze, who is now a member of the informal advocacy group of Save Museum of Fine Arts, said the Directorate is carrying out its functions “pro forma,” as Minister Tsulukiani is calling shots in the system.

The activist also suggested that the refusal could serve to bar the sacked employees — that are critical of Minister Tsulukiani and her team — from returning to the museums for research.

Conflicting Reasoning by Directorate, Director

The controversial document is signed by Nika Akhalbedashvili, who was appointed to the Directorate and also as the Director of Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery and Signagi Museum of History and Ethnography by Minister Tsulukiani. He previously served in the Justice Ministry, led by Tea Tsulukiani in 2014-2020.

Akhalbedashvili stressed that the Directorate — with four votes in favor and one against — found it inadvisable to accept the grants, claiming the projects were submitted to the Rustaveli Foundation in “gross violation” of the procedures.

Akhalbedashvili also claimed that General Director of the Georgian National Museum, David Lordkipanidze had submitted the proposals without notifying the rest of the Directorate, responsible for managing the Museum system since Tsulukiani’s decision in April 2021.

He further accused Lordkipanidze of addressing the Rustaveli Foundation with a request for grants on February 7 despite the decree by the Minister coming week earlier stipulating that the Directorate would now be responsible to determine whether or not to take up the grants.

But at the meeting of Directorate, Lordkipanidze apparently argued that the Georgian National Museum’s scientific council had the proposals approved before the Minister had even set up the Directorate.

Also noteworthy, that by the time Minister Tsulukiani issued the decree to put its loyal Directorate in charge, the Rustaveli Foundation had already published the list of funded projects for 2021.

Apart from Lordkipanidze and Akhalbedashvili, the Directorate includes Nino Chipashvili, Director of Ethnographic Museum who previously worked in Justice Ministry along with then Justice Minister Tsulukiani, Director of Sports Museum Nino Salukvadze, and Zviad Kvitsiani, Director of Svaneti Museum.

All of them took on the posts thanks to the reforms process kicked off by Minister Tsulukiani after taking office as the Culture Minister in March 2021.

The Ministry of Culture declined to comment with over the developments.

Read Also:

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


Back to top button