Please see the interview with Anuka Lomidze – Co-Founder, Cube in Context
First, please tell us about your success story, from where did you start and where are you currently in your career?
My “business life” began at the age of twelve, In the weekly newspaper “Akhali Epoka” where they had a whole page for a few teenagers surrendered. In the column “Alter Ego” we wrote about the reality of our generation on challenges, relationships with elders, ways of self-reliance, on our searches…
I remember letters about studying without electricity, lack of transportation, no entertainment about the absence of spaces and injustices reigning in schools… About those muddy streets or no perspective at all when choosing a profession… Soon, I moved to culture and society columns, in collaboration with other magazines and newspapers… In the ninth grade, I collaborated with six publications, one of which was founded by our, friends’ group. It was a magazine created by teenagers, which was supported financially by our friend’s father.
From school, I went to the media and television arts college, graduated it in documentary film direction and moved to Theater and film University as film and program journalist. It was still a time when majority of youth stopped their choice on economics or legal studies… Around me, not everyone could get along what should I do in life with a “virtual profession”? However, immediately I decided that I would not change my profession and stayed in this field.
Today, the main areas of my activity are: film, visual arts, management of cultural and social projects. In 2010, I passed the Soviet post-Soviet research doctoral program, within the framework of which I was researching Georgian experimental film and video art. Since 2012, I am invited lecturer at Ilia State University and private schools, where I teach the history of documentary and experimental film, video art, creative writing, television art… since 2020 EU/UNESCO “Designing creative cluster ecosystem in Georgia” as board member, local expert.
To implement socio-cultural, educational projects, I have Non-governmental organization “Ahuahu – Foundation for culture” and also, I am co-founder of the artistic social enterprise, “Cube in Context”.
What section or achievement would you outline from your career history and why?
From the moments, I will probably remember those stages of life when the circumstances took me to decision to never be an ordinary mercenary an employee whose fate could be decided by someone else and whose resources could also disappear at any moment, by director by “closing the project” or firing me.
Among the achievements – “Free Film Screenings” project and “Cube in Context” are probably the most important. Both were initiated with empty hands and a “utopian” idea, which has been added to the way of implementation having significant competence, knowledge, experience or ability people. That’s how we came the result.
In general, it never works out for me to leave the started work and on specific topics when I work, I never develop only in terms of deadlines or work periods. Perhaps, this feature led to the birth of the idea of ”Free Screenings”: In 2014, the first stream of the National Film Center’s “Film in School” project I was among the missionaries. For several months, we went to surrounding villages and taught the students of local schools the history of cinema, principles of discussion.
When the holidays started, I couldn’t leave the children and villages who already got used watching movies on large screen and having dialogues after each session. I decided to hold a workshop where anyone would be able to get information regarding organization of film screenings, and to plan their own sessions in the villages or city.
Thirty-five film lovers attended the first working meeting each had at least three, at most twenty-seven sessions that summer with any technical possibility, you can show the film and discuss it in any place holding for the promotion of film culture in the regions, self-organized to create systems and diversify civic activities we planned.
In the following year, the East-West Management Institute program of USAID supported visits in eleven regional centers around Georgia, with same, educational program. Before 2020, in the “Free Screenings” network, in total, about two hundred and fifty organizers have joined together, which at different times attended our next workshops. Spectators gathered in clubs, in squares, in basements, on roofs, in the forests and on the seashore, in schools, at the Universities, in day care centers for children and the elderly, in kindergartens, on the fields…
Tbilisi’s most stable point along with the Scientific library, Universities and the Hall of the Film Academy, there was a new Mziuri social cafe with which from the opening day until the end of the pandemic, every Friday, we cooperated with our whole team.
As we know, “Cube in context” is also located in Mziuri. You are the co-founder and head of this social enterprise. Tell us about your social enterprise and its future plans.
Over the years, “Mziuri free movie screenings” have been the most important indicator for us to maintain the confidence that this park really has the resources to participate in the contemporary cultural life of the country and involve citizens.
A few weeks ago, UNESCO’s official website published an extensive letter about Cube, which talks about the importance of effective, efficient cooperation between the civil and public sectors. There are a lot of such abandoned buildings around, and each one has more or less potential to turn into a space for public. “Cube in Context” is a social enterprise created as a result of the functional transformation of a former cable car station which includes a contemporary art gallery, a cultural media library and an educational platform, with a small coffee point. It is a kind of social sculpture, the purpose of which is to unite people of different ages, abilities, interests and experiences around art, provoking dialogue between them. The idea belongs to artists Koka Vashakidze and Vasil Macharadze. We started working on the project eleven years ago and we were able to reach the final goal in the spring of 2022 with the full support of Tbilisi City Hall.
From May until now, we have already hosted two international festivals “Artisterium” and “Tbilisi Triennial”, we have held our own “Festival of the beginning of studying – readiness”, we have organized four independent exhibitions in the gallery, several performances, workshops and free screenings; We implemented about ten cognitive projects in the educational space; We have art therapy sessions and are constantly creating opportunities for a discussion format for meetings.
Along with the socio-cultural goals, our task was to preserve the architecture of the Soviet building as much as possible and to intervene with the society through it. We recently launched the program “Meet, Create, Share in the Cube”, which invites small-budget organizations, individuals and initiative groups working on social and cultural topics to work on ideas within the walls of the Cube and share the results. The immediate goal is to ensure sustainable functioning of the space and increase visibility. We are already preparing for the next festivals and establishing the schedule for 2023, in which an important part is devoted to creating an equal environment for everyone, creatively developing, educational events. People from different groups are constantly walking in the park, and the cube is a space for each of them.
Nowadays, social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more relevant. When did you decide to connect your career and daily activities with solving problems in society, and especially to do all this from the point of view of children and adolescents?
I started thinking about social issues at school age. In the fourth grade, they took us to “Catharsis” and for the first time then I wanted to do something with my own strength, together with my friends, by which we would help the elderly. We displayed homemade posters in the streets, stopped passers-by and told them about the grandparents living in the old people’s home, and then we organized a self-organized collection. We raised money and bought khalva, We didn’t have any other sweets, but were sure that they would be very happy with gift. Then there were shelters for street children, single mothers, crisis centers, eco campaigns and homeless animals… Because of all this, in adulthood I realized once again how important it is to start from an early age. Involve children in social activities, give them the opportunity to think independently in an informal environment, help them identify challenges and deal with them…
From the age of nine months, I took my daughter with me everywhere… Based on my practice, when we take steps for social change, it is important to have young people involved in the process. At least because they know better the language of their families, the neighborhood, and they can bring something specific to their elders much better. Changing behavior or attitudes in practice requires much more effort, often futile work. For example, when we were working on one of the waste management campaigns, the schoolchildren changed the “tradition” of families walking to the shops, they all went with their own hand-sewn second-hand bags. “I don’t want plastic, I have my bag!” It was coined like a game phrase in the entire settlement… In experiments and games, children always follow us openly, and parents and elders are characterized by being interested in their children’s interests…
Besides Cube In Context, do you have any other current or future projects that you would like to share information about?
Now, we are creating an experimental, integrated knowledge club in Cube, in which disabled, homeless, ordinary children will be able to engage in creative activities together with adults and people of different specialties in an equal environment, development. Today, due to health and social reasons, many children are cut off from society, lack contact with each other and are left out of school. imagine even “The Little Prince”, read in a friendly environment, which they will read, record as an audio book, draw illustrations, watch screenplays, write creative texts, stage a self-organized performance and hold a discussion. Around each next work, all this will happen in sequence, with the involvement of people from different professions. We always have something to share with each other and the children.
Among other projects, I’d mention the first astro-esotheric online magazine Astrologia.ge and the mineralogical service based on its platform – Lakshmi Birthstones. The goal of both of them is cognitive development of the reader, support of personal growth and at a certain stage of humanity, activation of forgotten knowledge, promotion of effective use in life. I have been working on this project since 2011 with a team with many years of experience.
And finally, the traditional question, what would you advise aspiring professionals and young people who are now taking their first career steps?
Straightforwardness, directness, acting confidently, believing that nothing happens in the world by chance… No one meets anyone and anywhere on earth without a reason. It is important to calmly accept and understand any reality – if something doesn’t go the way we “want”, maybe it’s just not time, we don’t have the readiness… To fulfill your wishes and reach your goal, it takes time and energy. Therefore, when setting goals, specifying desires and defining the end points as accurately as possible has great power. I would advise to constantly take care of self-development and do only the work that can be done with love and passion, which one could do completely without any income.