Systematic work to be continued in all areas — Aida Balayeva

At an extended meeting of the board of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the head of the Ministry Aida Balayeva summarised the results of work done in 2023 and announced plans for 2024. 

In her speech Aida Balaeva recalled the large-scale tasks set by the Head of State. They include ensuring harmonious development of the country and society, internal ideological and external image potential, citizens' confidence in the future by forming a competitive national identity and preserving a unique culture in the global context.

In order to fulfil the strategic objectives, plans for all spheres and directions of the Ministry of Culture and Information have been analysed and adjusted. At present, the ministry supervises and ensures the development of the spheres of information, civil society, religion, inter-ethnic relations, culture, archives, documentation and books, youth, family and gender policy, as well as creative industry. 

The Minister of Culture and Information dwelt in detail on each direction, telling about the work done and the goals set.

Thus, within the framework of implementation of the Concept of cultural policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2029, construction of 44 cultural facilities has been completed, 260 more have been overhauled. Salaries of about 64 thousand workers in the sphere have increased by 45%. Last year republican concert organisations organised more than 500 concerts, staged more than two thousand performances, 65 new productions.

The "Birlik" ensemble has been created, and the "Akzhauyn" ensemble, which enjoys great popularity, will be restored by the end of the year. In order to popularise national values and culture, creative groups have successfully toured to such countries as Italy, France, China, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Germany, Korea, Turkey and the USA. According to the minister, theatres have worthily represented our country, taking part in 122 international and republican festivals and competitions. 

"Among them is the Kazakh State Academic Theatre for Children and Youth named after Gabit Musrepov, which won prizes in 7 international festivals. The State Republican Academic Uyghur Theatre of Musical Comedy named after. K. Kuzhamyarov took part in the International Theatre Festival named after Nodar Dumbadze. Nodar Dumbadze International Theatre Festival in Georgia. Representatives of the opera art achieved no less success. Thus, the staff of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre "Astana Opera" was awarded prizes in Poland, Slovenia and Russia. Soloist Valery Selivanov received a special prize at the І International TV and Radio Opera Singers Competition "Maria Cebotari" in Moldova, Azamat Zhyltyrgozov was awarded the BraVo International Prize for Classical Art in Russia. Soloists of the Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Abai took part in the IX International Competition named after Yuri Grigorovich "Young Ballet of the World" in Sochi: Bogdan Verbovoy became the owner of a gold medal, Eskali Kaskyrbay silver medal, Akbota Bekbolatova received a special diploma," Balaeva listed. 

Also, last year by the Decree of the President 6 writers, who made a significant contribution to the development of the country, were awarded the title "People's Writer", 8 artists - the honorary title "People's Artist". In order to support representatives of the cultural sphere, the Rukhani Kazyna festival was organised, and the Umai Prize and the Aiboz National Literary Prize were awarded. For the first time, young Kazakh writers received a special Presidential Literary Award. The special prize was awarded to authors of the best works in the field of inter-ethnic and intercultural unity. 

In 2023, 134 books with a total circulation of 346,000 copies were published in Kazakhstan. Including 14 previously unpublished works in the "New Kazakh Literature" series with a print run of 42,000 copies. 16 works of literature for children and teenagers with a circulation of 48 thousand copies were published and distributed.

"Undoubtedly, literature is the basis of any kind of art. The state has never for a moment forgotten about supporting Kazakhstan's poets and writers. In the past years, concrete measures have been taken in this direction. Over the past three years, with the direct support of the state, work has been done to publish new works, support authors, especially young talents, reprint works that have become masterpieces of national literature, translating them into world languages, holding creative evenings and anniversaries of our writers and much more," the Minister said.

According to her, the above-mentioned achievements are only the beginning of a lot of work. The effectiveness of cultural policy depends, first of all, on the improvement of the legislative framework. Therefore, the gradual introduction of amendments and additions to the Law "On Culture" is a requirement of time. Also, in order to implement the agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan and the People's Republic of China on the establishment of mutual cultural centres, amendments to the Law "On Culture" and the Budget Code are envisaged.

The Minister emphasised that there are a number of other pressing problems that are raised by society. Among them are the issues of raising the social status of cultural workers, the use of phonograms on stage, copyright, the procedure for organising commercial concerts, etc. But some of them should have a specific legal solution. 

"For example, culture should not be a tool of politics. And this issue we should regulate not by single decisions, but by the Law. For example, nowadays announcements about concerts of famous performers are posted in social networks, tickets are sold, but there are cases of concert cancellations. In order to suppress these and other negative actions, work is being done to amend the legislation to impose measures of prohibition and penalties on the organisers. Once again, these are urgent problems, the solution to which will be presented only after public discussion," the minister said. 

In Kazakhstan, it is planned to amend the Law "On Cinematography", to begin work on providing state support to the film studio "Kazakhfilm" named after Sh.Aimanov. Aida Balayeva emphasised that as Minister she is interested in returning Kazakhfilm to its former glory and status in the international film industry. 

"I want to assure that this instruction of the Head of State will be fulfilled at the proper level. Whoever and however sceptical about the future of "Kazakhfilm", we say that "Kazakhfilm" is not an ordinary film studio, it is our history, our spirit, the hope of the national cinema. Therefore, we will not only preserve it, we will ensure its dynamic development," she said.

Five years have passed since the establishment of the National Centre for State Support of Cinema. During these years, 5 pitchings have been held, 100 films have been produced. At the same time, the monotypicality of themes has been noticed, among which hunger, war, drug addiction prevail.

Starting this year, the rules for the competitive selection of film projects applying for state support have changed. The National Centre for Cinema Support will now first accept scripts, then the best of them will be selected by an expert council. Among the priority themes are those that meet national interests and ideology. A new format competition will be announced in the near future.

"There are many unresolved problems in the cultural sphere of our country, but this does not mean that we do not have a fully formed culture, we do not have a rich heritage, a history that we can be proud of. We should support what we have, revive what we don't have, offer all this, first of all, to our people and then to the world. This is the information age and we should not limit the promotion of cultural values to invitations to museums, theatres, concerts, exhibitions and tours," Balayeva said. 

Kazakhstan is launching for the first time the online portal "Culture", which will be distributed in 8 languages. Its main task is to create conditions for every person interested in our cultural heritage to get acquainted with museums, libraries, theatres, national cinema, exhibitions, museums-reserves, the golden fund of national music and new samples of modern music without leaving home. 

According to Aida Balaeva, such projects have long shown their effectiveness in the world practice. For example, the Louvre Museum, which is visited daily by 50 thousand people, receives 10 million "virtual tourists" in the online space. 

It was noted that at present the country does not systematise the work on training in the cultural sphere. Work in this direction should be carried out taking into account the specific needs of the market. Therefore, it is necessary not only to revise specialities, but also to change the programme and training process. For this purpose, a comprehensive analysis of the state of higher education institutions that train personnel for the cultural sphere is necessary before the reforms.

According to the minister, we should also focus on learning English, as domestic cultural workers should be open to the world. Also, the task today is to renovate and bring the state of cultural facilities to a decent level as much as possible. This work will be carried out in stages.

Along with the modernisation of the three museums of the country, it is planned to modernise their internal expositions in accordance with the requirements of the time. A large-scale restoration centre will be opened at the National Museum, where conditions will be created to preserve the values reflecting the centuries-old history of our people. The restoration, protection and propaganda of the historical heritage is one of the most important issues facing the Ministry. At the same time, special attention is paid to enriching their inner content.

The return of our historical heritage from far and near abroad is in the centre of attention. It has been noted that this work is being carried out with Russia, Uzbekistan, China and a number of European countries in accordance with international legislation. 

The process of global digitalisation has not bypassed the sphere of archives. Thus, the information system "Unified electronic archive of documents" has been developed, to which 1591 organisations are currently connected. Last year the information system was modernised and supplemented with 103 items. In accordance with the plan, this year electronic documents of state and local executive bodies will be transferred to state storage.

The Kazakhstan National Electronic Library will be gradually introduced into the libraries of all departments and systems. This year a pilot project will be launched in two regional libraries.

"Another important issue is the archive. It is our duty to preserve exhibits and pass them on to future generations. At the Central State Archive it is planned to build an archival repository for 700 thousand units of storage. The design and estimate documentation has already been developed and is undergoing state expertise. The main task in the archival sphere remains digitalisation. We will accelerate the pace of this work," Balayeva said.

Today there are 12 museum-reserves in the country. They contain not only history, but also all the spiritual wealth. A considerable share of the profit, which now comes from tourism, belongs to the museum-reserves. Nevertheless, this potential is not yet fully utilised.

Having analysed these and other aspects, it was decided to strengthen the national route of museum-reserves with cultural and spiritual content. A special concept will be created for this purpose.

At present, work is continuing on the inclusion of Kazakhstan's historical and cultural sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The relevant documents of such historical sites as Otrar, Syganak, Kultobe-Yassy, Zhankent, Sauran, Zheti Asar have been developed. 

The Minister noted that this is a rather labour-intensive process, because one of the most basic requirements of UNESCO is the physical condition of the artefact. Here the assistance of local authorities is required, especially in the issues of improving the territory of museum-reserves and historical and cultural sites, repair and construction of roads, installation of signposts, internet systems, modular toilets - in general, active development and improvement of the quality of infrastructure. 

"We have sent letters about this to all akims of the regions. Taking this opportunity, I urge colleagues from the regions not to forget that this initiative has a great economic benefit for the local population," Balayeva emphasised.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely cooperating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue of propaganda of national culture abroad. This year the National Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary, in connection with which in 2024-2026 the issue of holding an exhibition at the Museum of Oriental Art "Guimet" in France and the Museum "Bienalle" in Italy is being considered.

A special exhibition is also planned to be held in Russia as part of the 120th anniversary of the famous artist Abilkhan Kasteev. In addition, in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan within the Days of Culture of Kazakhstan will be held "Days of Kazakh cinema", exhibitions of artists and other events.

The head of the department also told about plans to support domestic literature. One of the measures being taken is book publishing. It was noted that bookstores should be filled with works in the Kazakh language. Now the publication of books, support of literature are discussed by the general public and carried out in accordance with the new rule. For the purpose of discussion of actual questions of literature and new tendencies, propaganda of new works and authors, attraction of a society to reading of books we plan to create at the Ministry a literary club.

As part of the fulfilment of the specific instruction of the Head of State, the Ministry, as a strategic body, will consider the field of onomastics from the point of view of state interests and pay special attention to a fair assessment of historical personalities. 

"Therefore, without allowing falsity and divisiveness, self-serving, persons who deserve it must be exalted. There is no other way," Aida Balayeva stated.

The head of state has instructed to develop a package of measures to support the creative industry. In this area, a comprehensive work has begun to simplify taxation of creative industry entities. Last year, a Government Resolution was adopted, according to which a special retail tax regime is applied to 40 types of economic activities out of 43 related to the creative sphere. 

Now business entities are exempt from corporate and individual income tax and VAT. There is a flat tax of 4 per cent for individual entrepreneurs and 8 per cent for LLPs. In order to address these issues, a bill will be adopted on the support and development of creative industries.

Work has also begun on the creation of a corporate fund "Creative Industries Support Centre", and it is planned to open creative hubs in the regions. As part of a joint project with Kazpost JSC, centres for representatives of the creative industries, including progressive youth, will be created. An international forum for the development of the creative industry will be held with the involvement of international experts in this field. 

In addition, thematic events on the development of the creative industry will be held within the framework of Kazakhstan's chairmanship of the SCO and the OTH.

"One of the ideological levers not only of the cultural sphere as a whole, but also of the economy and society of the country, is undoubtedly the information policy. At a time when the paradigm of consensus between citizens and states is changing from day to day, we must be guided by the rules and requirements of the law common to all. The Information Doctrine has been approved by the Decree of the Head of State. It is aimed at improving the competitiveness and quality of domestic information content, replenishing its value, ensuring information security," the Minister said.

Kazakhstan has adopted a law "On Online Advertising and Online Platforms", which legally justifies the activities of online platforms. The ministry has prepared and submitted to the Majilis a draft law on access to information and public participation.

As part of the President's instruction to revise media legislation to take into account the interests of the State, the demands of society and trends in the development of the media sphere, a bill on mass media has been drafted and approved in the first reading by the Majilis. 

A project to develop digital terrestrial television and radio broadcasting is being implemented. Today more than 93 per cent of the population is covered by digital broadcasting. A total of 580 radio and television stations have been put into operation.

Work is under way to organise the broadcasting of State television channels abroad. As of today, 24KZ, Qazaqstan International and Balapan International channels are broadcasting in neighbouring and non-CIS countries. Last year, 43 TV series of 638 episodes were created by order of the Ministry. 

The Regional Media Forum, organised last year to discuss topical issues of periodicals in the regions, will continue this year. Subscriptions to newspapers and magazines have been optimised, and online subscription via applications has been systematised.

In 2024, the agency faces a number of tasks related to the implementation of information policy. It was noted that with the adoption of the Law on Mass Media, the status of journalists will increase and the state information policy will become more mature. In addition, the mechanism of distribution of state information orders will be transferred to grant financing. 

The bill implements a number of measures aimed at strengthening the information security of the domestic media space. These measures envisage a reduction in the possibility of repeated broadcasting of foreign content on radio from 20 to 10 per cent, and a gradual increase in the share of domestic content and language on TV and radio channels from 5 to 60-70 per cent (by 5 per cent annually).

In addition, implementation of the information doctrine will continue this year. It is planned to introduce administrative responsibility for the distribution of "grey plates", to create a unified media platform as part of the digitalisation of business processes in the media sphere, to expand the territory of distribution of domestic TV and radio broadcasting, especially in border areas.

Comprehensive measures are being taken against external information attacks and the spread of destructive ideology. In accordance with the requirements of the Online Platform and Online Advertising Act, liability is provided for with regard to the dissemination of misinformation. To date, 243 cases of dissemination of misinformation on online platforms and Internet resources have been identified, including 238 cases on online platforms and 5 cases on Internet resources. The work in this direction will be strengthened.

The quality and content of content will also continue to be improved in line with important media documents and the Ministry's work plan. To this end, the ministry plans to organise training seminars and courses to improve the professional qualifications of journalists. A total of about 40 training events for journalists will be held in Kazakh and Russian, covering all regions of the country. These include training courses on factchecking, media ethics, cybersecurity, etc., which will be held every quarter.

It is planned to train at least 50 journalists in each region every quarter on digital media, factchecking, media ethics and other topical areas of the industry.

As part of the Roadmap for the development of industry journalism in 2024, courses will be held at 14 universities of the country. Overall, the curriculum of 30 journalism faculties needs to be radically updated. 

A media literacy development plan for 2024 has been developed and is being implemented, aimed at increasing media literacy among the population, improving the qualifications of press secretaries and representatives of regional media. As part of this plan, about 40 training events for journalists will be held in Kazakh and Russian languages, covering all regions of the country.

"As the Head of State noted at the enlarged Government session, information work will be intensified in society to form an ideology of labour values and eliminate the psychology of dependency. Civil society is the backbone of any state. Representatives of non-governmental organizations strengthen ties between the people and the authorities and contribute to the formation of public dialogue. Last year, a law on public control was adopted to ensure the right of citizens to participate in the management of State affairs and to form associations through public control. In order to create favourable conditions for the development of civil society, the Law on Public Associations has been amended and the number of founders has been reduced from 10 to 3. In addition, it is known that a special law has been adopted in order to create a unified legal institute for online petitions. A special platform for online petitions will be launched in April 2024," the Minister said.

100 active citizens from all regions of the country, who have turned charity into a life's work, were honoured for the first time in the field of charity. Recall that last year the first International Volunteer Forum was held with the participation of the Head of State.

One of the dynamically developing platforms most in demand among the population is Public Councils. The Coordination Centre of Public Councils has been established under the Ministry. Among the tasks set for the civil society sector for 2024 is the updating of the Civil Society Development Concept, and this work has already begun.

Over the past 3 years, the number of volunteer organisations in Kazakhstan has increased 3 times, the number of active volunteers - 5 times. Since the beginning of the year the implementation of a new Roadmap for the development of volunteer activities for 2024-2026 has begun. This year, a traditional republican project "Marathon of Good Deeds" will be held. Volunteers, patrons of the arts, non-governmental organisations and citizens will take part in it.

In addition, it is planned to hold a volunteer gathering of the member states of the Council on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. Based on the recommendations of the 11th Civil Forum held last year, an indicator will be introduced to assess the contribution of non-governmental organisations to the socio-economic development of the country. The agency will take comprehensive measures to develop the mediation initiative.

As for the transformation of public councils, the practice of holding live public consultations and council meetings on issues of concern to the population will be introduced.

Aida Balayeva noted that the National Kurultai is of great importance in carrying out systemic reforms together with civil society. Its current meeting will be held in Atyrau. In preparation for this meeting in Astana, special sections in various areas have recently been organised.

"At the suggestion of the members of the National Kurultai, the agenda of the main meeting of the Kurultai is currently being formed. The proposals on the sphere of culture voiced at it are always under constant control of the Ministry. Certain work on their implementation will be carried out," she said.

The ministry also carries out systematic work on strengthening family values and prevention of domestic violence. Various events are organised annually to modernise moral values and raise the status of the family. Father's Day and Mother's Day have been added to the calendar since 2023.

Family Support Centres are now operating in the regions. In order to improve them, it is planned to develop a model regulation based on a unified concept. The issue of increasing the salaries of employees will be worked out.

Another important issue is gender equality and the empowerment of women. To this end, Kazakhstan is implementing the concept of family and gender policy until 2030 and the corresponding action plan.

"The current global situation increases the importance of preserving the national identity. At the same time, given that every third resident of the country is a youth, a special place in the modernisation and promotion of the Kazakh identity is occupied by young people. All our initiatives will be aimed directly at the benefit of society, including our youth," the Minister emphasised. 

Since last year, the country has launched the Concept of State Youth Policy for 2023-2029 years, introduced the "Youth Development Index". In 2023, the project "Zhas project" was implemented in the framework of which 280 small grants of 1 million tenge each were given to support youth business initiatives. 30 representatives of talented youth received grants "Tauelsizdik Kurpaktary" in the amount of 3 million tenge, 19 young people were awarded the State Youth Award "Daryn".

The mechanisms of transformation of the Youth Resource Centre have been worked out, it is planned to increase the salaries of employees. In order to increase the population's income and reduce the number of unemployed young people in all regions, it is planned to implement the JolTap project and to develop a road map on cooperation with national youth organisations.

The work will continue with the implementation of comprehensive projects and initiatives aimed at youth development. 

"In promoting virtue and spiritual values, a special place is given to religion It is a very subtle and important sphere. And secularism is a way to preserve peace in a multi-confessional and multi-ethnic society. It is necessary not only for the state, but also for every citizen. That is why we must jointly solve spiritual problems of the society," Balayeva said. 

Concluding her speech Aida Balayeva noted that Kazakhstan is a uninational, multi-ethnic state, the abode of peace and harmony, tranquility and stability. On the instructions of the Head of State for the first time in 2023 were established the Order "Yel Birligi", which is awarded for fruitful work to strengthen the unity of the nation, as well as awards "For the best works and works in the field of culture and art" and "For the best works in the field of literature and journalism", "For contribution to strengthening of intercultural and interethnic unity". Systematic work in this direction will continue.

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