II International Poetry and Art “Voices of Friends” Festival and the First Burabay International Short Film Festival were held in Kazakhstan.

From May 6 to 10, 2022, the Second International “Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art” Festival was held in the resort area of the Burabay National Park (Kazakhstan).

The festival is organized by the British non-profit organization Eurasian Creative Guild (London) with the support of the Rixos Borovoe Hotel, Akim of the Akmola region, Akim of the Burabay district, Akim of the village of Burabay and the Higher Pedagogical College in the city of Schuchinsk.

The long-awaited event brought together more than 300 poets, prose writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers from 18 countries this year: Kyrgyzstan, Great Britain, Ireland, Lithuania, Israel, Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, Finland, Uzbekistan, USA, Georgia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Qatar, Ukraine and Belarus.

An informal start to the festival was already given on May 4 in Nur-Sultan. For everyone, a meeting was held with Guild Chairman Gareth Stamp and Vice Chairman Mark (Marat) Akhmedjanov. A warm meeting of like-minded people took place in the hospitable space of the ARNAU Art and Education Center. It became a bright starting point for wonderful events, where not only the participants of the festival, but also members of the Guild from Nur-Sultan got the opportunity to personally introduce themselves to Gareth, tell about themselves and get to know him better.

The Festival continued on May 5 in the city of Shchuchinsk, where the creative residence “ECG HORIZONS BURABAY” is located. There was an Plein air, which was attended by a delegation of students from the creative studio “Granat” from Kokshetau, as well as its creator and leader Anar Sattybayeva. Students, together with Gareth Stump and the Guild volunteers, went to sketch the SHCHIPT microdistrict, covering not only the beautiful landscape, but also the amazing landmark Horse Yard. The opportunity to draw horses, donkeys and even a camel from life caused great delight among young artists.

The festival itself officially opened on May 6 at the Rixos Borovoe hotel. The program started with Elena Bezrukova and Marina Alyasova, representing the executive committee of the ECG Expert Council (London) on Business Coaching. They held a master class “Formation of the emotional climate outside and inside”. This master class allowed the participants to quickly recharge their batteries and tune in the right way.

The next event that captured the attention of festival participants and guests from different parts of the Akmola region, as well as guests of the five-star Rixos Borovoe hotel, was an exhibition of visual arts, turning the hotel lobby into an international art gallery. Members of the Guild – artists from the USA and Kazakhstan – Yulia Ward, Daria Zalesskaya, Elena Bezrukova, Yusuf Krykbesov, Milana Yusufova, Maria Luzina, Elena Tsygvintseva, Elena Serebryakova and Nelli Filippova presented their works at the exhibition of visual arts. It is gratifying to note that during the festival three works by Akmola artists were purchased for private collections and sent to Bulgaria, Ireland and Wales.

The pearl of the program of the first day was the Opening Ceremony. The festival was opened with welcome words from the British Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kathy Leach, to the guests and organizers of the festival. The Ambassador emphasized the importance of this event for building international cultural relations. With a welcoming speech performed Akim of the region Marzhikpayev Ermek Boronbayevich, Deputy Head of the State Institution “Department of Entrepreneurship and Tourism of the Akmola Region” Andrey Ivanovich Podgursky and the regional Akimat was represented by the Deputy Akim of the Burabay District, Kuzembaeva Anara Tleuzhanovna. Also, Torgyn Abdykaimova, Member of the Council of Guardians of the ECG (London), addressed the participants of the festival. During the ceremony, each of the festival participants shared their wishes, filling the atmosphere with a festive mood. The solemn part of the evening continued with the screening of the films as part of the pre-launch of the Burabay International Short Film Festival. The audience saw the films “Ander” (dir. – Alina Mustafina, Kazakhstan/Qatar) and “The last one” (dir. – Fariz Akhmadov, Azerbaijan) for the first time.

Later the festival participants from the Rixos Borovoe hotel moved to the creative residence of ECG HORIZONS BURABAY, where the ceremony of raising the flags of the countries and cities of the festival participants took place. The flags of the states participating in the festival were solemnly presented at the ceremony. The main idea of the ceremony was to show that creativity has no geographical and political boundaries, and the Guild unites cultural figures from all over the world. A worthy end to the first day was the opening of the Wall of Memory in the residence – a memorial in which the first two commemorative plaques took their place. The first one was installed by Yulia Ward in honor of Andrew Wesley Ward (USA), a collector, traveler and entrepreneur, who greatly influenced Yulia’s development as a creative person. The second plaque was installed in memory of Maria Shevel (Ukraine), whose name was given to the award in the framework of the Open Eurasia contest for the best work for children. The memorial is designed to preserve the memory of the Guild members who have gone to a better world, as well as people significant to them and the Guild.

During the celebration, Nargiza Karasartova and Bubuira Bektenova awarded the vice-chairman of the guild, Marat Akhmedjanov, with a medal from the Democratic Committee of Women of Kyrgyzstan public association. The participants noted his invaluable contribution to supporting the creativity of the beautiful half of humanity.

The second day of the festival began with bright colors and precise lines of an artistic master class from Yussuf Krykbessov, Ambassador of ECG (London) in Shchuchinsk. Together with his students, Mr. Krykbessov helped the festival participants, even those who were far from fine art, to reveal their creative nature with the help of an intuitive gesture. The result was a collective work, which the craftsmen donated to the ECG Horizons Burabay residence. Both the creators themselves and all the participants of the festival left their autographs on the canvas.

At the invitation of the Akimat of the Akmola region, the festival participants went to the city of Kokshetau, where a series of events took place at the site of the Museum of Local Tradition and History, each of which deserves special attention.

The program was opened by the welcoming speech of the department of culture of the Akmola region Sabitova Aigul Baubekovna. It reinforced the hope for the development of such cultural and event projects as festivals. Also, the deputy director of the museum Dyusenbaeva Anar Amantaevna greeted the guests.

The presentation of the phenomena associated with their work has become a sensory platform not only for telling about themselves, but also for discovering the intercultural ties of the Eurasian space from China to Ireland. For example, Aliya Akhetova, the first participant in the history of the festival from Kokshetau, a member of the Union of Journalists of the Republic of Kazakhstan, presented a book dedicated to creative people born in Akmola land, highlighting Bulat Mekebaev, an artist well known to the Guild, originally from Kokshetau, the events took place in many European countries. Yulia Ward and Andrey Grodzinsky (winner of the Open Eurasia – 2021 contest in the “Prose” category) presented a view of their master class on the work of an illustrator with an order for the cover of the author’s book – some difficulties had to be faced, what questions needed it was necessary to set it to another friend so that the cover turned out to be bright and emotional, etc. Dilara Lindsay, Marina Vernalis, Dana Zhateeva, Daria Zalesskaya, Bubuira Bektenova, Nargiza Karasartova, Maria Muchinskaya (winner of the Open Eurasia – 2021 contest in the Poetry category), Elena Bezrukova, Marina Alyasova and Galina Primorskaya shared their creativity and ideas about modern culture . Of particular interest was the presentation by Bruce Gaston, a member of the Guild from Ireland. Bruce spoke about his suspicion of the development of the Celtic culture. The highlight of the presentation part was the joint musical performance of Bruce and Gareth.

The film screening also caused a storm of emotions and discussion. The films “Honorable Lviv Lady” (dir. – Natalia Pasenitska, Ukraine) and “On the Silk Road” (dir. – Sherzod Nazarov, Uzbekistan) were presented to the audience. These films, dedicated to the issues of happiness, family values and love, have become a great topic for discussion.

The third festival day – May 8 – was opened by a series of video messages from remote participants of the festival. Remarkable poets, writers and artists Polina Lakhtina, Alexander Binshtein, Raisa Melnikova, Darien Roitman, Victoria Levin, Marlan Nysanbaev, Alexander Kazarnovsky, Marlan Nysanbaev and Mikhail Ananov, Elena Bosler-Guseva, as well as chairmen of the Guild of different years David Parry and John Farndon shared with their creativity, good mood and wishes for a wonderful festival. Online performances and live presentations, as always, have become an integral part of the evaluation of the participants in the “Voices of Friends – 2022” poetry and art contest. It was thanks to the performances that the rating table of the contest acquired its final form.

On the same day, the Blue Diamonds of Eurasia Assembly was held: who creates the future classics today?” with online and offline members of the OCA People 2020-2022 special editions. At the Assembly, a presentation of the numbers of the new issue of 2022 was held, the main character of which was the Irish poet and publicist Bruce Gaston and 39 other prominent members of the guild from different countries.

Also on this day, a discussion film screening took place. The audience enjoyed such films as “Catherine II. The Fall of the Great” (dir. – Andrey Archkov, Russia), “Coincidence” (dir. – Egor Lymarev, Kazakhstan), “Tomorrow” (dir. – Nikita Makarenko, Uzbekistan), “Steps” (dir. – Zhanaiym Ashimova, Kyrgyzstan ) and the animated film “Lullaby” (dir. – Dilshat Rakhmatullin, Kazakhstan).

The culmination of the evening was a musical Gala Concert in the recreation center “Okzhetpes” which was a real treat. Akim of Burabay village – Dzhalmukanov Sabyr Alimzhanovich expressed his warm wishes to the guests, and Karsybayeva Dina Sadvakasovna, Head of the State Institution “Department of Culture and Development of Languages of Burabay District” presented the Guild with a memorable gift. Also, the head of the Palace of Culture Nurumova Zhumabike Daulenovna addressed the guests with words of gratitude. The teams of the LEVEL UP Center for Creativity, the Chechen-Ingush Ensemble Vainakh, the Folk Ensemble Rauan and the reader Maria Tkachenko, took the stage, and the Okzhetpes Palace of Culture presented the Dombrist Ensemble Ozhetpes Sazy, Omirzak Kurbanov, an instrumental quintet of folklore ensemble ” Kokshe auenderi”, an exemplary dance group “Viva dance”, Evelina Krasyuk and the dance group “Fidgets”. The official participants of the festival – Helen Coro, Marina Vernalis, Tatyana Mendybayeva, Gareth Stamp, Bruce Gaston, Maria Muchinskaya, Andrey Grodzinsky – also presented wonderful poetic and musical performances.

On May 9, writers and poets enjoyed the beauties of the Burabay region, starting with participation in the open air and continuing with excursions to the iconic places of the region.

But the real fireworks of emotions and colors was the Awarding Ceremony of the “Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art” contest and the closing of the festival.

The golden ten in the Poetry category included:

  • Apollonia Delos (Russia)
  • Alexander Binstein (Israel)
  • Alexander Kazarnovsky (Israel)
  • Victoria Levin (Israel)
  • Dilara Lindsay (Great Britain)
  • Marina Alyassova (Kazakhstan)
  • Marina Vernalis (Russia)
  • Maria Muchinskaya (Belarus)
  • Mikhail Ananov (Georgia)

Poetry category winners:

  • 1st place – Marina Vernalis (Russia)
  • 2nd place – Apollonia Delom (Russia) and Marina Alyassova (Kazakhstan)
  • 3rd place – Alexander Kazarnovsky (Israel)

Painting category winners:

  • 1st place – Marina Vernalis (Russia)
  • 2nd place – Marilu Lis (Kazakhstan)
  • 3rd place – Sergey Babyakov (Kazakhstan)

Illustration category winners:

  • 1st place – Daria Zalesskaya – RATSEL ART (Kazakhstan)
  • 2nd place – Tatyana Mendybayeva (Kazakhstan)
  • 3rd place – Elena Shilova (Crimea)

Winners in the photography category:

  • 1st place – Maria Priznyakova (Russia)
  • 2nd place – Helen Coro (Russia)
  • 3rd place – Irina Smirnova (Kazakhstan)

Also, Bakhyt Rustemov, the famous writer and head of the International Union of People’s Diplomacy, awarded Gareth Stamp, chairman of the Guild, with an honorary medal.

For all the participants of the festival was a presentation of the new issue of the magazine “Bogema” by a member of the Guild in Shchuchinsk, Pavel Kossovich – he was able to prepare an issue dedicated to the festival for the closing ceremony! This issue has become an excellent souvenir for all those present.

The final day of the festival, May 10, was held at the Higher Pedagogical College (Shchuchinsk). The main event of this day was the acquaintance of two wonderful creative communities – representatives of culture and art of the Burabay region and international participants of the festival. Thus, two associations – “Art-Burabay” and “Lira” – were represented by the “owners” of the region, and the guests shared their creativity. Yuliya Vard also made a presentation on professional development opportunities in the creative industries, and Taina Kaunis, Executive Director of the Guild, shared the history of the creation of the ECG Horizons Burabay residence and plans for its development.

A special place in the program of the final day was the screening of the film “Nunik” (dir. – Elena Arshakyan, Armenia). He deeply touched the hearts of those present. It is worth noting that all films within the framework of the festival were shown as a pre-premiere of the Eurasian Film Festival ECG Film Festival, which has been held annually in London since 2019.

At the end, there was a sincere farewell party of the guild members at the ECG Horizons Burabay residence, where along with the venerable participants of the festival, volunteers of the festival shared their creativity: Alena Vnuchkova, Kirill Komaristy, Nina Fedorova, Louise Nagoeva, Alina Shaymuratova, Sanjar Dyusenov, Adil Kabidenov, Daria Chalenko.

An extensive online program was organized for festival participants who could not attend the festival in person.

With the support of the ECG Expert Council on Poetry, a Zoom-conference was held on the topic “Nature. Painting. Poetry”. Under the moderation of Council Chairman Mikhail Ananov, the participants discussed such an important issue as a source of inspiration hidden in nature and helping artists and writers to create their immortal masterpieces for thousands of years. “The World of Children’s Literature” – Zoom-conference organized by the Expert Council for Translations represented by Chairperson Elena Bosler-Guseva (Kyrgyzstan) and Vice-Chairman Alina Moseykina (Cyprus) – raised a whole range of complex tasks associated with the creation of a quality children’s book, especially if this is a translated edition. After all, it is children’s literature that is by far the most complex and most demanded product today.The traditional poetic marathon “Voices of Eurasia” was also held in an online format, designed to become a platform for the performances of those members of the Guild who, for various reasons, were no able to visit the festival in person! The main online event was a conference dedicated to the special issue of OCA magazine – OCA PEOPLE, on the theme “Blue Diamonds of Eurasia. Who creates modern classics today?”, combined with the in-person part of the program.

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