Organizer of singing workshops within the framework of the “CHOICE-Belarus: Legacy and modernity” project reflects on how one can build a bridge between museum and people.
Aliaksei Chubat talked about his vision of preserving heritage in hisinterview with the "EuroBelarus" Information Service.
- I have always been attracted to the cultural area. First of all, I wanted to understand, who I am and who the Belarusians are. Once I went on an expedition to the Gorki district with the Students’ Ethnographic Association, and I spent two weeks immersed in all imaginable authenticity and tradition one can dream of. We recorded songs, collected rushniks (traditional embroidered towels – EuroBelarus), talked with elderly ladies… That expedition created the relations, which are now behind new and fascinating projects.
- Was it then when the idea to create singing courses emerged?
- After the expedition, I started wondering how to promote the collected inheritance. I went on social entrepreneurship courses by Masha Charakova, the author of the comic book "Heta Belarus, Dzietka." At the same time I began to attend courses of male singing at the SEA. It was then when we met with Siarhei Dougushavy, who had the idea to create a "singing city". He was ready to do it from the creative side, and I could help with organization. As a result, we made twenty-three "Singing gatherings" and a number of "meetings" - events of small size. Since 2017 we have decided to go separate ways, because each has its own view on methods of promoting the heritage. As for me, I want to build a bridge between the museum and the people. Make things stored in hidden places public and known.
"Singing gathering" is not a stable group, people come and go. There is a nucleus - a few dozen regular participants. This led to creating courses for them (taught by Victoria Mikhno, member of Guda folk band). We made two groups of 40 people each - mostly female audience. Of course, it is impossible to be engaged in singing without singing, but still our primary goal is to acquaint people with the tradition.
- How did the initiative become a part of the international "CHOICE-Belarus: the legacy of i modernity" project?
- At first, we had a sponsor, and then we found support at "Talaka." After that in two months I wrote a project for CHOICE.
- Do you have any plans for further development, taking into account that traditional culture has more to offer apart from singing?
- Yes, I have founded a cultural and educational institution "Culture of motherland" last year and I plan to develop other activities in its framework. Travelling across Belarus is one of them.
Also, I plan to publish a songbook with all the songs that we sing during the Singing gatherings in the nearest future.
- Speaking of travelling: this area is quite competitive, and the tourism market is on the rise...
- We do not think in terms of competition, it is a matter of those engaged in business. We think in terms of cultural policy. The most important thing for us is to make a cultural product and give it to the people.
- Summing up the conversation, can you advise the Belarusians how to preserve and promote their heritage?
- We need new frameworks of work. We need to use Internet technology to create a map of cultural sites, including regions of singing styles, use new ways to educate... We think about it and we can do it.
The International Project "CHOICE - Cultural Heritage: Opportunity for Improving Civic Engagement" is implemented by the Association of Local Democracy Agencies ALDA (France) in conjunction with the International Consortium EuroBelarus (Lithuania).