Scheduled for launch in 2016, the Dilijan Art Initiative is designed to be a framework for the cultural development of the city of Dilijan and Armenia as a whole. Its mission is to help Dilijan serve as a cultural centre and to promote global understanding through the diverse mediums of art, research and debate among progressive thinkers and leaders from around the world. While principally focused on contemporary art, the initiative will pursue the larger aim of changing people's lives locally and enriching the image of Armenia internationally.
When fully operational, the Dilijan Art Initiative will function through four core programs.
At the centre will be a new kind of cultural institution – the Dilijan Library – and its yearround and cyclical exhibitions and programmes. Inspired by the great libraries of old, the Dilijan Library will represent the concept of the library for the 21st century and serve as a nexus of ideas, creativity and research, and as a point of engagement with progressive ideals.
The initiative's main meeting platform, the Dilijan Convivium, will be a biannual summit of international artists, thinkers, innovators and social entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on crosscultural dialogue between East and West.
Complementing the Dilijan Library and Convivium, the Dilijan Garden will signify the city's role as a place of communing and its devotion to ecology. Part garden, part library of gardens, part digital garden, part exhibition and conference space, the Dilijan Garden will be a welcoming space of conviviality and introspection.
Finally, building on Dilijan's heritage as a creative retreat, the fourth component of the initiative, a Cultural Spa, will function as an ongoing artistic and research project, as well as a physical facility to help people heal mentally, holistically and spiritually.
Through these varied activities, the Dilijan Art Initiative aspires to become a preeminent cultural project of international renown originating from Armenia, the Caucasus region and the entire post-Soviet sphere. It will attract to Dilijan prominent scholars, artists, writers, creative individuals and opinion leaders, along with researchers and students of many disciplines, making Dilijan the Alexandria of the 21st century.
The Dilijan Art Initiative is predicated on the belief that art has a unique galvanising capacity across cultures, disciplines, generations and genders, transcending time and space – an antidote to the narrow-minded ideologies that divide many in the interest of few. It pays tribute to the legacy of renowned progressive Armenian thinkers, such as Mesrop Mashtots, Grigor Narekatsi and Grigor Tatevatsi, who knew and understood notions of the universal and the timeless.
In 2015, Dilijan Art Initiative provided sponsorship support to the National Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia, Armenity (Հայություն), at the 56th Venice Biennale, which was awarded the “Golden Lion”, the main prize of this famous exhibition. The project also acted as the main sponsor of the Armenian program of the XIVth Istanbul Biennial (the publications about the Armenian program see here). In particular, Francis Alÿs’s film “The Silence of Ani” was shot with assistance from Dilijan Art Initiative.