When I first visited Sarigyugh in 2017 I was devastated to experience the level of cultural decay that has been a reality in most Armenian rural environments over 30 years.
Project SARI started activity in Sarigyugh in order to draw attention towards the situation and try to solve some of these issues. There is an old and majestic construction in the center of town which has been used as cultural centre before but is a complete ruin currently due to robbery, a war and lack of financial resources to maintain it. I realized the need for a community space and cultural activity in town and was determined to renovate (a part) of this building and start using it as a cultural centre again.
To explain the situation and reach out to the world to help us we needed a publicity stunt. I decided to organize a concert inside this demolished construction which would create a shock and show the devastation of this community. The mayor did not allow a concert inside the building due to security reasons. So, we decided to organize a concert right outside of the building.
But a concert outside has the tendency to quickly turn info a festival and before I knew I had an army of volunteers from the whole region pushing the concept to its limits. I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) stop the energy, even though at time I was scared for the (financial) consequences. But we end up organizing the first ever festival in Sarigyugh, hosted 2500 visitors from all over the country including the governor and the religious head of Tavuh and made it to national news that week. It was a tremendous success which we had accomplished in 2 weeks! I was incredibly proud of the team and the youngsters embracing this opportunity to collaborate, create and enjoy. I realized there is so much talent and energy that should be mobilized. Project SARI has embraced SԱRI FEST as one of its pilars and we plan to organize a festival every June 2nd of every year we’re active in this incredible town!
- Lucine Ellarian