The French humanitarian and development organization ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) founded Bactria Cultural Centre in Dushanbe in December 2001. Since its inception, the centre has not only facilitated the general public’s access to culture, information and vocational training in Tajikistan, it has also supported members of the artistic community who were marginalized during the social and political upheaval following the civil war. Throughout the years Bactria Culture Centre has built a network of artists, curators, music producers, managers, students and other members of the Central Asian cultural community and connected them with audiences in the region.
The different genres and styles of traditional Tajik music reflect the ancient knowledge and traditions that influence each region of the country. Specific genres such as Shashmaqom and Falak are well known in Tajikistan and throughout Central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan. Today, contemporary and alternative music has emerged in Tajikistan, young musicians are experimenting with rock, rap and fusion. Yet, both traditional and contemporary performers are constantly struggling to stay afloat.
The music industry collapsed in the past decades and its recovery has been slow and inconsistent. The music production is now confined to a few limited genres of music severely restricting cultural expression. Supporting new trends and existing traditional music styles will positively impact the development of cultural diversity in Tajikistan. Broad-reaching and professional presentation of these genres within the country and in the international sphere will encourage multiculturalism in Tajikistan.
This problem stems from the lack of expert knowledge amongst Tajik nationals in music technology and management, the geographical isolation of musicians, limited access to musical and recording equipment as well as opportunities to perform and a lack of exposure to new trends.
Bactria Cultural Centre produces the Dushanbe International Ethno-Jazz Festival since 2008, acts as the cultural operator for the French Embassy in Tajikistan, producing Fete de la Musique, Francophone Week and other events, and supports projects that strengthen and diversify the music industry in Tajikistan by building capacities of music stakeholders, facilitating musical production and promoting musical events. Bactria promotes traditional and ethno-fusion music from Tajikistan internationally. In line with the overall strategy of Bactria Cultural Centre, the activities in the field of music are implemented in a way that encourages all interested organizations and individuals to take part in Tajikistan’s music scene and industry. Bactria provides equipment support and owns a music recording studio, as well as video shooting and editing facility open for all young and experienced artists in Tajikistan.
In addition, Bactria Cultural Centre works in partnership with renowned and prestigious organizations such as the Shashmakom Academy, Gurminj Museum, the Tajik National Conservatory, and the Shakhidi Museum.
The main objectives of the Bactria Cultural Centre are threefold:
• To preserve and promote traditional music in Tajikistan
• To encourage the development of innovative music genres and practices
• To shape and support the development and production of a diversified music industry.