Public Defender Calls on Minister of Culture to Eliminate Practices Inconsistent with Principle of Equality during Selection of Artistic Directors of Professional State Drama Theaters
On October 31, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia with a general proposal and requested the implementation of changes in order to facilitate decision-making free of discriminatory motives during the selection of artistic directors of professional state drama theaters. The interests of the applicant were represented in the Public Defender’s Office by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and the Georgian Democracy Initiative.
As a result of studying the applications of the participants of the selection competition for artistic directors of professional state drama theaters, it was revealed that the Minister did not submit the applicants' candidacies to the relevant board, and canceled the competitions in which they participated. In addition, the criteria, on the basis of which the expediency of submitting their candidacies to the relevant board was evaluated, was not based on the normative requirements. In addition, in some cases, the Minister appointed the artistic director at her own discretion, without competition. The information requested by the Public Defender regarding the cases under consideration has not been provided by the respondent.
The Public Defender emphasized the essential importance of taking into account the opinion of persons involved in the relevant field (in this case, theater experts) when making decisions related to cultural life, and considered that the practice identified in the selection of artistic directors of professional state theaters contributed to the creation of conditions that might put some candidates, due to their different views or other grounds protected from discrimination, in a disadvantageous position compared to other contestants or the staff appointed by the Minister at her own discretion.
Based on the above, the Public Defender called on the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia to take steps to ensure the transparency and involvement of qualified experts and the public concerned in the decision-making process relating to professional state theaters as much as possible and to ensure that sole decisions are made only in exceptional, properly justified cases.