Engaging Tirana’s Communities in Public Art and Policy

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On 13 December 2017, seven initiatives to boost the creative economy around the world were selected as the new beneficiaries of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Albania, with Ekphrasis Studio, is a first-time recipient with the project “Engaging Tirana’s communities in Public Art and Policy”. More info, coming soon



Museum of Communist Crimes, Shkodra/ Albania

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Video tour of the Museum of Testimony and Memory. This museum, housed in a former secret service headquarters and prison, preserves the evidence and facts of the brutal aspects of the Albanian Communist regime in Shkodra and Albania.

Networking lunch with Ray Ivany in Church Point, Nova Scotia

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Networking lunch with Ray Ivany in Church Point, Nova Scotia

This event was hosted by the CDÉNÉ in partnership with the Clare Chamber of Commerce, Argyle Chamber of Commerce and Université Sainte-Anne.

Ekphrasis Studio, Church Point, Nova Scotia.  On August 26, Ray Ivany spoke in the cafeteria of University Sainte-Anne during a lunch organized by the CDÉNÉ, which was attended by entrepreneurs, local governments, residents and others from the region. The discussion was in relation to the 2014 Ivany Report “Now or Never”, and aside from addressing specific examples and figures, points of his discussion involved revealing the human mentality in general, and the Nova Scotia mentality in particular.


Ivany began by noting that there is a common tendency among people when faced with a problem, to deny an issue exists, or to lie to themselves. He stressed that to move forward we must talk with honesty about our reality. The honest facts of the situation in Nova Scotia are around a 5% decline in population and up to 20% decrease in labour. These have left us with the lowest GDP in Canada. If the demographics speak for the future, the current demography of Nova Scotia does not show much success in store. He insists there is still time to create success, and if success is achieved, those communities who were catalysts will be the ones to profit most.

He also noted that there exist 2 distinct realities common in every community in the province. The first reality, is that every community has examples of great businesses, which are paired with a great location, resource, and existing population. Within this reality, these businesses exist because an entrepreneur recognized a desirable location and wanted to live there.

The other reality in every community is that regardless of whether there is an economy or not, we feel to be entitled to the best healthcare, schools, roads and infrastructure. This realty prevails because this is in fact how the province has been operating, as though the economy of the region is irrelevant and the elected officials will keep bringing bags of cash from the federal government in Ottawa, or the provincial government in Halifax. But what happens if/when that bag of government cash doesn’t show up?!

Transitioning back from a metaphor on tools, Ivany stated we must use new methods of solving and fixing, as our old tools, good as they may have once been, are no longer relevant or effective for the task ahead.

He noted that the business-facing functions of the government could be enhanced to work closer to the speed of business, rather at the speed of government, and the need of quickly finding solutions and solving problems.

Referencing the fork in the road dilemma, Ivany noted that too often in Nova Scotia the decision of which way to go has resulted in “stop, fight and don’t go anywhere.” The product of such actions essentially blocks any new ideas at Phase 1.

A major positive he sees in the 16 months since the Ivany Report’s release, is that people are still talking about it. However, he sees there is a lack of urgency in responding to the report’s findings and recommendations, as though we are waiting to see if things might just work out on their own.

Ultimately, Ivany’s message is one of more people, more businesses, more wealth, and that we should be comfortable with our own success, as well as the success of our neighbours. He says he’s agnostic to business, and that wealth creation is achieved through cooperation.

Following the talk was a brief round of questions and networking. (Lunch was buffet soup & sandwiches, and sweets). 

For the full report click here, or search online “Now or Never Nova Scotia”

Ekphrasis Studio is a non-profit arts management & creative industries consultancy organization, who co-authored the book Heritage for development in South-East Europe (2014) and have conducted many other artistic activities in Canada and Europe, including ShareCulture!TV citizen journalism for culture.


Upon reflecting, we do notice many similarities similarities between Nova Scotia and Albania, please feel free to read more, and stay tuned for upcoming articles!

“Stuck on Nostalgia”:  It seems as though many residents of this country wear “nostalgia glasses”. Just as sunglasses block out the sun, these Nostalgia glasses block out the present.”

Some of our paintings are missing…

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Some of our paintings are missing …

Is state-owned art in safe hands?

By Brian Brady, March 2009

They are some of Britain’s most prized public treasures, jealously guarded by the Government on behalf of the nation. But not, it appears, when they are placed in the hands of ministers, ambassadors and civil servants.

State-owned paintings worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been lost, stolen or damaged while on loan to government departments in the UK and around the world over the past four years.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has admitted that 19 works from the Government Art Collection have been reported lost or stolen from buildings as far afield as Jakarta and Sao Paolo since 2005. (Four of these, including Strand on the Green by Rodney Burns, were later found elsewhere on the same premises.)

Twelve more were damaged and had to be repaired at a cost of thousands of pounds. Repairs to two works at 10 Downing Street, which included a portrait of Sir Robert Walpole (for “tears in the canvas – cause not established”) cost £5,000 alone.

The DCMS is considering demanding compensation for the losses, recovery and repairs running into thousands of pounds.

But opposition politicians last night complained that ministers and officials were “too casual” with the 13,500 treasures in the Government Art Collection, which range from original works dating back to the 16th century to limited-edition prints. The Conservatives called for stiffer discipline to force staff to take more care with the valuable items entrusted to them.

“When people reach a certain level in public life, they are given access to the Government Art Collection, but this art still belongs to the public and it needs to be looked after,” said the shadow Culture spokesman, Jeremy Hunt. “These figures suggest people are becoming far too relaxed about the art that is on loan to them.”

Eight years ago, five paintings worth almost £250,000 went missing while the British ambassador to Argentina was moving to a temporary residence in Buenos Aires. The then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, pledged that his department took the safety of official premises seriously and was reviewing security at the embassy as a result.

The DCMS pushed for a financial penalty against the FCO to compensate for the losses but later dropped the issue. However, an inventory of the collection’s missing works has revealed that more than half of the 27 instances of theft, loss and damage in this period happened at Foreign Office premises around the world. Six mishaps occurred at the department’s main building in Whitehall.

Two paintings worth more than £80,000 were taken from Somerset House, in London, in February 2008. After a huge international police operation Shipping, by John T Serres, and Sir William Chambers, by Francis Cotes, were eventually recovered.

Several works were damaged because of problems with the paint or canvas, but in two cases the explanation was simple: “fell off wall”.