Targeting social issues through art

Local news, 29.12.2022

The Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Azerbaijan has supported the local arts and cultural scene by funding cultural projects of various organizations and artists for the last eight years. These projects enable current challenges to be addressed from an artistic perspective and thus contribute to getting more people involved.

In December 2021, the Swiss Cooperation Office called for project proposals, which would contribute to the development of contemporary arts and have a special focus on gender equality, environment, climate change, inclusiveness or digitalization.

More than 50 proposals were received, out of which five projects were selected for funding. Exhibitions and presentations of the below presented projects took place throughout the year in different regions of Azerbaijan.

A new call for proposal is running until 13 January 2023. Art and cultural projects can be submitted until this date (link to call for proposals).

Disability Fashion Show

  • Implementing partner: Kekalove Adaptive
  • Duration: five months

People with disabilities experience different challenges, one of which is obtaining adapted clothing for themselves. The project called Disability Fashion Show trained several persons with disabilities to create 40 appropriate clothing based on their own specific needs. These clothes were presented to the public on 13 July 2022 at the Disability Fashion Show, which was received with great interest by the public and media.

The project also had an online promotion component as part of which more than 5’000 people were reached to get awareness about the clothing challenges of people with disability.

Show dancer
Participant of the Disability Show in Baku © Kekalove

Animafilm Festival

  • Implementing partner: Peri Film
  • Duration: four months

Each year, the festival is dedicated to different important social issues. This year’s edition addressed climate change. More than 120 animated films for children and adults were shown. The festival had international jury of six members from Switzerland, Georgia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as a local children’s jury of 22 members. The festival awarded films from China, France, Georgia, Italy, Portugal and the USA.

Different international specialists, including Jonathan Laskar from Switzerland offered master classes to local animation producers as part of the project, too.

Animafilm team
Animafilm team pose for event completion © SCO

Gender Graph

  • Implementing partner: graphic designer Fuad Mammadov
  • Duration: six months

This project is an initiative by graphic designer Fuad Mammadov. The Gender Graph project aimed to bring together and develop young digital artists and visual content creators sensitive to issues like gender equality, domestic violence and LGBTQ+. Following the training and educational program, 22 selected participants of the project produced artworks focusing on the aforementioned topics.  A social media campaign was launched using those works. The project reached out more than 74,000 social media users in an effort to raise their awareness.

Fuad Mammadov awarding a project participant © FDFA

Hidden Stories

  • Implementing partner: Gender Hub
  • Duration: six months

The project was implemented by Gender Hub. Twenty-one participants from Astara, Calilabad, Lerik, Lankaran, Masalli, and Yardimli districts were selected to participate in diverse training courses. They developed their understanding of gender equality, reflected on the existing gender stereotypes in Azerbaijan, shared the cases they experienced or witnessed in their lives so far. They also looked at possible solutions in order to further prevent gender-based discrimination and hatred. Participants teamed up to produce a performance show through a methodology called Forum Theater. Three other teams were formed, the participants of which performed at the Lankaran Drama Theater. As the main component of the project, participants were divided into three groups and were given two months to produce short films targeting gender-based stereotypes. The films were later screened at a cinema in Baku with big interest from the audience.

Links to films: film 1, film 2, film 3

Project team
Participants of the project © Gender Hub

New generation of female screenwriters in Azerbaijani cinema

  • Implementing partner: Azerbaijan Union of Filmmakers
  • Duration: four months

The project was implemented by the Azerbaijan Union of Filmmakers (AUF) with a purpose of strengthening the female segment of the screenwriters in the Azerbaijani cinema. Eight women with limited knowledge about film screenwriting were selected and invited to a training in Baku and a summer school in Shaki, where they got professional support on designing a successful screenplay. This was followed by a pitching lessons stage in Baku and as a final event of the project, presentation of the final product by the female screenwriters in Baku.

Female screenwriters
Female screenwriters get professional training as part of the project © SCO