Nogoonbaatar Eco Art Festival, the first of its kind in Mongolia, aims to change the critical situation of air pollution in the Ger District, notorious for heavy pollution through coal burning.
Half of Mongolia’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolian for "Red Hero"), one of the most polluted capital cities on earth. fine particulate matter accounts for many health disorders and premature deaths, and is a high threat to younger generations. It grows with the expansion of the population and increasing rural-to-urban migration.
Nogoonbaatar ("Green Hero"), the first eco art festival in the country, hopes to change this critical situation. The festival is staged in the Ger District, notorious for heavy pollution through coal burning. Local artists, European artists-in-residence and environmental educators are using a people-to-people approach, developing art projects and events in community centres, schools and public spaces.
All festival activities highlight the effects of air pollution and promote best practices for a more sustainable lifestyle. The goal is to raise awareness about air pollution (indoor and outdoor) and its impacts on health, promote good practices such as prevention and protection methods, and to present cheap or costless solutions to diminish pollution (insulation, ventilation, planting trees, cleaner heating systems and fuels) using the learning by doing method.
Nogoonbaatar Eco Art Festival
The festival was set to take place in May 2019, but due to the coronavirus crisis and subsequent measures taken, the festival will be postponed to Spring 2021. The festival's main activities centre around community centres and co-creation:
- The European Artist Residency Programme in Ulaanbaatar marks the launch of the Festival. Together, European and Mongolian artists will explore the local context with the support of the local community.
- The Green Lake Community Centre will be presented as a best practice: the house will be insulated and provided with eco-friendly heating. Visual documentation at the site will give step-by-step explanation of how to follow this example.
- Artists, air pollution experts, environmental educators, and representatives of the local community co-create art ideas and education methodologies for different sites in the district. The process will be facilitated through creative workshops throughout the festival.
- Artists and educators conduct workshops at schools and community centers to prepare the public art events together with the target group.
- Public art events at the sites with the participation of the local community.
Nogoonbaatar as European Space of Culture
The project convinced the selection committee with its clearly defined local needs, strongly built partnerships, and well argumented understanding of innovation in relations to the local context. It is important that such a burning issue for Mongolia as ecology is being addressed in a way that is not very known to the local context.
The jury agreed that this project can be seen as one of the models for European Spaces of Culture due to its turn to socially engaged art as an environment for knowledge and advocacy, as well as a platform of mutual learning and exchange between different partners. It is clear that the project is built on a thorough research and understanding between the partners.