The second in a series of UNESCO training workshops was held in the framework of the project “Strengthening national capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in Central Asia,” with the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18-21 February 2013 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan organized the seminar with the support of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO. The Kazakhstan National Federation of UNESCO Clubs implemented the workshop, which was organized primarily for Kazakhstani participants from the National Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Agency for Tourism and Sport, leading universities and museums in the country and NGOs in the field of crafts, traditional music and dance. The workshop provided an opportunity to improve participants’ knowledge of international mechanisms of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In particular, participants gained practical experience on how to complete application forms for submitting ICH elements to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Participants also learned about programs, projects and activities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, receiving information on the forms and conditions for international assistance. Workshop participants discussed preservation issues of ICH in Kazakhstan with experienced certified UNESCO trainers. These included the First Secretary of the Convention and leading UNESCO expert Dr. Rieks Smeets; UNESCO consultant and Kyrgyzstan National Commission for UNESCO expert Ms. Sabira Soltongeldieva; chairperson of the All-Ukrainian Association of Young Researchers of Folklore, and Head of the Ensemble of Authentic Folk Music “Bozhychi” as well as the School of Traditional Ukrainian Folk Dance, Mr. Illya Fetysov. Presence of ICH experts from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan gave the opportunity to exchange experiences in the preservation of ICH, and especially to discuss the prospects for nominating shared ICH elements in Central Asian countries. Currently two UNESCO applications from Kazakhstan are under consideration – a traditional puppet-musical art “Orteke” and the folk dance “Kara Zhorga.” In this regard, the most heated topic debated during the meeting was the appropriateness of considering for safeguarding as an element of ICH contemporary, professional renditions of traditional music and dance. Discussions also involved the administration of intellectual property rights for traditional knowledge and cultural expressions, as presented by Mr. Illya Fetysov. The series of similar training workshops on international mechanisms for implementing the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are planned to take place throughout 2013.