Art Gene Festival is an initiative of Georgian NGO “Union of Art Gene”, formed by group of friends whose mission was to identify problems associated with traditional and folk culture and find ways for their solution. The Art Gene group mainly consists of artists and musicians.
In 2003 the Art Gene group initially began investigating the existence of remaining indigenous Georgian art forms, including folk music, which has been past down from generation to generation forming an integral part of Georgian life. The Art Gene Group traveled throughout all regions of Georgia, investigated over 100 families, who were known to maintain their strong traditions and whose activities were then filmed and recorded on the spot. Most of them were selected to participate in a Gala concert at the first Art Gene festival in Tbilisi in 2004, where they performed in front of a large audience and have been recorded live for further archival purposes and to produce and publish CDs.
In 2004 the main profile was Crafts, which we organized after extensive expeditions throughout Georgia giving us an insight into the huge potential within this field for many years to come. The Art Gene Group found yet other examples of previously unknown artists, blacksmiths, who have preserved their indigenous methods thought to be extinct. The result of 2005 research was the publication of a book “Masters of Georgia’s Traditional Crafts”, which catalogues the work of artisans working in different fields throughout Georgia and provides their contact details to encourage commissions from the readers. The book aims to address such sensitive issues as migration and potential tourism development, so much needed in rural areas to keep these artisans interested in continuing their work for their future prosperity.
Our Festivals exhibited modern and traditional folk music, exhibitions and sales of folk handicrafts, traditional medicine, traditional cuisine and folk games to promote our heritage in the capital and regions. To attract young generations to see more traditional and folk music, in parallel we staged popular rock concerts towards the evenings of festival days and developed certain pattern of jamming sessions with folk and modern music and dance, which proved to become one of the trademarks of our festival.
Every yare we chose a new main theme of the Festival, our motivation was to give each annual Art Gene festival its own distinct profile but keeping aspects of the previous one, thus giving the festival a wider range every year.
Previous Festival’s themes:
2004: Family folklore and polyphonic songs
2005: Traditional crafts and family folklore
2006: Caucasian house, Traditional medicine, folk stories
2007: Internal tourism, handicraft, traditional cuisine,
2008: Presentation of rural migration problems as a serious danger to indigenous cultural heritage, presentation of Foreign Folklore to Georgian society (Asian days)
2009: Georgian ecology and bio products
2010: Georgian language and script
2012: Traditional Georgian Family
The Art Gene Festival proved to be the one of the most successful, self-sustained and highly attended festival in the South Caucasian Region, with growing numbers of supporters from both the local and international community
Our Festivals participants are from the different ethnic minorities of Georgia and from countries such as Chechnya, Ingushetia, Ukraine, Turkey, Latvia, China, Japan, France, and UK, thus making Art Gene Festival as been the International Festival.
The Festival is attended by all generations since it covers the widest range of cultural activities including: arts, crafts, folk music, modern music, martial weaponry, blacksmithery, tannery, cloisonné enamel, apiculture (beekeeping), basket making, knitting, sewing, embroidery, gobelin, cloth and felt making, musical instruments, pottery and ceramics, kilims, weaving, carpentry and stonemasonry, wood carving, jewellery, culinary, traditional medicine, martial arts, dance, etc. generally emphasizing on fields of activities which are still part of daily life in all versatility of different ethnic groups existing in Georgia.
The festival Art Gene is an ongoing project since 2004 and several recent researches showed that it is the most well organized, by far the most attended and popular public art event in Georgia. 40 000 visitor attendance rate in 2007 revealed further steady 90% increase as in previous years, which leaves us considering extending our venue and activities in coming years.
Our publications : Book- "Masters Of Georgian Traditional Crafts", quaterly magazine "Art-Gene", documentary films "Adila", "Trevelling Through Folklore" and various audio CDs...