The Republican Scientific-Methodological Centre of Folk Art of the Ministry of Culture and Sports (the ‘Scientific-Methodological Centre’) was entrusted with the coordination of the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Uzbekistan at national level. At regional level, coordination is ensured by the Regional Scientific-Methodological Centres of Folk Art. The Board of Experts and Historical-Cultural Expertise on Intangible Cultural Heritage operate under the Scientific Methodological Centre. In addition, a number of organizations, such as Culture and Leisure Centres (894 centres), the Union of Composers or the Academy of Arts are closely involved in the safeguarding and promotion of intangible cultural heritage.
Since ratification of the 2003 Convention, Uzbekistan has developed a legislative and policy framework for the safeguarding of living heritage, in particular through amendment of the existing Cultural Heritage Law, adoption of a new law (2009) and implementation of the State Programme on ‘Safeguarding, preservation and popularization of intangible cultural heritage of Uzbekistan for 2010-2020’ (‘State Programme’).
In 2012, a specialized Intangible Cultural Heritage Documentation Department was created under the Scientific-Methodological Centre. This department was provided with modern equipment for the processing and archiving of information. Access to archives of institutions involved in safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is open to the general public and specialized websites provide a large number of related material.
International and national conferences are organized annually, and scientific research carried out: in order to study the present state of intangible cultural heritage, specialized expeditions were organized in 2012 and 2013. A publication on folk art has been printed (Oral Traditions of the Uzbek People) and an Anthology of Traditional Music is under preparation. The Committee for Coordination of Science and Technologies Development is allocating State grants for research in five domains of intangible cultural heritage.
Uzbekistan has currently four inventories which are periodically updated: (1) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage for Inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; (2) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding; (3) National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (74 elements inscribed); and (4) Regional Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage (based on each of the 14 administrative regions of Uzbekistan with approximately 705 elements inscribed). All the lists are structured around the five domains of the 2003 Convention. The main criteria for inclusion are viability, significance, contribution to sustainable development and value. Any individual, governmental or non-governmental bodies may submit recommendations for inclusion of an element in the lists. The recommendations are evaluated by the Scientific Methodological Centre (Regional Scientific-Methodological Centres for the regional lists). To take into account the viability of an element, an additional domain of intangible cultural heritage ‘under the risk of disappearance and need of urgent protection’ is added. The lists are updated at least every five years, but may be more frequently for intangible cultural heritage in danger.
Thirteen centres of ‘Folk Art and Cultural-enlightenment’ promote intangible cultural heritage in the regions of Uzbekistan. Festivals, contests and exhibitions are regularly organised by governmental and non-governmental organizations. National TV and radio promote living heritage and non-governmental and regional TV channels devote also significant airtime to its promotion. Special radio and TV programmes are made with the involvement of bearers and experts. Filmmakers and cartoonists have created and released documentary films, movies and cartoons.
In order to support traditional performing groups, festivals and competitions of folklore and ethnographic groups; song and dance ensembles; maqom ensembles; artists of ancient musical instruments and folk puppet groups feature regularly. Many international festivals have been organised by non-governmental and non-profit organisations from 2008 to 2012.
In the period 2008 to 2014, a number of capacity-building seminars were held for experts and practitioners working in the field of intangible cultural heritage (ten international, eight regional, fourteen national, and more than thirty local). Professionals are trained in intangible cultural heritage management by specialized professional colleges and academic lyceums, as well as institutes and universities. Bearers are actively involved in the education and training process. Some higher education institutions also train managers and professionals in skills related to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, such as: the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, the State Institute of Arts and Culture of Uzbekistan and the Tashkent State Higher School of National Dance and Choreography.
In addition to the higher education courses mentioned above, the Kamoliddin Bekhzod Institute of National Arts and Design trains fine and folk arts and crafts directors, the Uzbekistan National University trains specialists in folk art and there are 15 pedagogical institutes and universities that train personnel for oral folk art and music. Postgraduate training is carried out directly in these institutions and in scientific research institutes (e.g. the Alisher Navoi Institute of Language and Literature).
A policy targeting the inclusion of knowledge on intangible cultural heritage into the educational system was initiated after the ratification of the Convention. It is introduced at all stages of the educational system in the framework of the State Programme. The methodology for teaching intangible cultural heritage in schools, which was developed within a UNESCO pilot project in the Asia-Pacific region, was tested in two secondary schools in Uzbekistan. A student’s textbook and a teacher’s handbook elaborated within the project were published in three languages (Uzbek, Russian and English) and will be distributed to all schools in Uzbekistan as of 2015.
For non-formal training and transmission, Uzbekistan maintains a master-to-apprentice tradition of transmitting knowledge. There is also a network of institutions primarily engaged in popular cultural leisure (recreation parks, cultural centres, youth centres, and children’s creativity centres) where traditional cultural hobby groups provide workshops for transmitting knowledge and practices: over 5000 amateur arts groups exist in approximately 894 centres in the country, and 278 children’s music and art schools are planned to be built and reconstructed by the end of 2014. They are focused on folk music, songs, dances and traditional handicrafts. Most of the teachers of these institutions are bearers. About 211 State-funded centres of Barkamol avlod (Harmoniously Developed Generation) train more than 70,000 students in 2,919 artistic circles on intangible cultural heritage.
In terms of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, national institutions and organisations cooperate closely with the UNESCO Office in Tashkent in the organization of seminars, research expeditions and joint projects. For instance, an expedition on documenting Karakalpak music in 2010 leading to the production of a multimedia DVD was co-sponsored by the French Embassy in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has also cooperated with other Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan), UNESCO institutes and category 2 centres (IICAS, IRCI, ICHCAP) and the Cultural Centre for UNESCO in Asia and the Pacific (ACCU), UNESCO Offices in Tashkent and Bangkok (e.g. with the ICHCAP and IRCI centres, respectively in Seoul and Tokyo on a project to study the creative values of the epics and narrators’ folk art in Central Asia since 2014). With Pakistan, Viet Nam and Palau, Uzbekistan has participated in the pilot project ‘Promoting Intangible Cultural Heritage for Educators to Reinforce Education for Sustainable Development’ coordinated by UNESCO Office in Bangkok.
Five elements from Uzbekistan, including two multinational elements, have been inscribed on the Representative List to date: Cultural Space of Boysun District (2008, originally proclaimed in 2001 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity); Shashmaqom music (2008, multinational with Tajikistan also originally proclaimed in 2003 as a Masterpiece); Katta Ashula (2009); Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz, Nevruz (2009, multinational with Azerbaijan, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Turkey) and Askiya, the art of wit (2014). The first four are covered by the present report; Askiya, the art of wit, inscribed in November 2014 will be covered by Uzbekistan’s next report.