LOS ANGELES–Close to eighty community members gathered at the home of Dr. Haig and Sylvia Minassian for an afternoon benefit reception held on Sunday–March 4 for the NK 2001 Arts and Music Festival (NK Arts). After many months of hard work and feasibility studies–NK Arts presented a formal grant proposal for their project.
NK 2001 was established in 1999 by New York-based art consultant Neery Melkonian. As project developer and director–Melkonian has traveled extensively throughout the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) as an advisor to Culture Minister Armen Sargsian.
The NK Arts project aims at helping Karabakh evolve into a thriving international cultural center. The mission is to generate dialogue–promote solidarity–and advocate understanding among cultures by inviting the world to Karabakh for an unprecedented international cultural festival. Ultimately–the project will help rebuild essential infrastructures and establish processes that will advance economic viability within the region–all the while contributing to world culture.
After an extensive feasibility study conducted by the project’s production team–and with the full support and cooperation of the NKR government–the town of Shushi was selected as the official NK Arts festival site. A multi-phased three-year plan to implement the festival in its full scope and scale has been developed–with each preceding year serving as an important stepping stone in delivering a component of the larger project.
The first NK Arts event–the Festival of Shushi–is scheduled to premiere on August 30–2001 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a newly built amphitheater complex within the city’s 17th century fortress walls and ancient gateway.
In August 1999–the project received a $10,000 grant from the New York/Armenia-based Tufenkian Foundation to conduct preliminary studies. As a result of the feasibility study–NK Arts received government authorization from Arkady Ghoukasian–President of NKR–to begin soliciting international funds for the project.
In September 1999–NK 2001 secured sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)–thereby extending its tax-deductible status for use in contributions and grant development. In the summer of 2000–NKR Culture Minister Armen Sargsian toured major US cities to raise funds and promote the project. He later traveled to France for the same purpose.
In addition to the Festival of Shushi (including the construction of the amphitheater complex and festival programming)–the following project branches were established: 1) Revival of Artisan Cottage Industries (ceramic production and printmaking); 2) Upgrade of Stepanakert’s State History Museum (reconstruction–cataloging and appraising); 4) Establishment of NK Arts Institute Complex in Shushi; 4) Project Management and Oversight (develop system and establish working body to manage and oversee each branch.)
Hostess Sylvia Minassian–founder and chairperson of the Arpa Foundation for Film Music and Art (AFFMA)–welcomed the guests and introduced the Master of Ceremony Maria Mehranian. After a brief overview of the project–visual presentations were made by Neery Melkonian and Bedros Enfiedjian (urban planner for the project). Neery mentioned how the site for the amphitheater complex was actually suggested by a couple of enthusiastic teenagers from Karabakh. Bedros Enfiedjian presented a brief history of Shushi and described the location and the reasons for choosing Shushi as the site for the festival. After considering various towns throughout Karabakh–Shushi was chosen since it has a better-developed infrastructure than other Karabakh settlemen’s.
Enfiedjian also spoke of the creation of a national park preserve in the adjacent Djederdouz region–which has been proposed by NK Arts to the government of NKR. The construction of a modern hospitality village next to the amphitheater is also in the works–with food–exhibition–and children’s areas. The goal is to create an economy and boost local development.
NK Arts is currently approaching companies–foundations–organizations–and individual to support the various components of the project. For more information contact NK 2001 Inc.–1369 Madison Avenue–Box #112–New York–NY 10128–(212)591-2569.