Culture, Heritage and Diversity


Support for Transition in the Arts and Culture in Greater Europe (STAGE)

The STAGE project (2000-2005) assisted the countries in the South Caucasus -Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia- in the transition of their cultural policies. It created a framework for exchange and co-operation amongst these countries and thus contributed to the reinforcement of intercultural dialogue and democratic stability in the region.


The objectives of this project were at national level, to

  • Encourage an open, democratic and transparent approach to policy-making and cultural management, with a new modern relation between public authorities, the cultural sector and the civil society ;
  • Promote the four major principles which have been seen as key issues for cultural policy in most European countries and remain of high importance in terms of democracy, i.e. the building of cultural identity, the respect of multicultural diversity, the stimulation of creativity and the encouragement of participation in cultural life;
  • Help policy makers to implement appropriate policies in order to respond to the challenges of democratic transition, notably new ways of financing, decentralization, privatization, status of artists and the development of civil society.

And at multilateral level, to

  • Encourage and foster regional and international co-operation;
  • Contribute through the cultural sphere to the stability of the Caucasian region.


The national cultural policy reviews of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia followed the guidelines of the Council of Europe review programme. The technical assistance carried out in the STAGE project focused on the development of cultural strategies and training activities for cultural managers in museums, libraries, the publishing sector and in cities.

For each of these thematic strands, the following steps were undertaken:

  • Experts assess policies on culture and the arts;
  • Meetings and debates bring together policy makers, creative people and managers of cultural centres;
  • Discussions between representatives of the cultural sector and the general public;
  • Training activities and assistance programmes (for cultural and arts administrators);
  • Publication of project findings.

Thus, the project ensured a more accountable approach to cultural policy, taking into account the interests of the local community in the countries concerned By providing technical know-how from experts from throughout Europe, the project aimed to ease the process of changing the way culture and cultural activities are organised. Indeed, uniting local communities and encouraging them to partake in their culture at local level is a way of promoting peace and democracy and building bridges between people.


The final ministerial colloquy of the STAGE project took place in Kyiv in 2005 on the topic of Culture and Cultural Policies for Development. On this occasion, participating, observer and donor countries took stock of the project’s achievements and proposed an initiative for its follow-up which could build on the experience gathered: the Kyiv Initiative.