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Hartak Festival: What’s “Experience Sharing,” Exactly?

Festivals are the new thing in Armenia. Throughout the summer and the beginning of fall, there seems to be a festival every week: sheep shearing, wheat, honey and berry, wine, duduk, film, and BBQ, among others. This weekend, though, a new type of festival will hit town and its offer to participants is “experience sharing.” It’s called Hartak, from the Armenian for “platform.”

As the name suggests, the Hartak Festival is a platform for creatives and other people with unique experiences to share its experience and for people who want to learn something new, explore and challenge themselves, find a new hobby or a life changing interest.

The idea was spurred when Carine Aroyan, Manushak Vahramyan, and Christina Arutyunova who had the idea of transforming the “experience sharing hours” of Aeon anticafe in Yerevan to a larger event. After studying various thematic fests around the world, they decided to combine the format of the most popular ones with the opportunities their network of intended speakers could provide.

The result was the mammoth Hartak Festival, three successive days of concurrent workshops happening throughout the city, split into four thematic blocks: health and lifestyle, arts and crafts, goodies and foodies, and know-how. The workshops are unlike typical conferences where you go and spend your day in a convention center. Rather, the objective is to create an informal environment where everyone gets a chance to try a new experience under the slogan, “you can do it!”

Aroyan, who has worked on festivals before, including Reanimania, Armenia’s animation festival, adds, “experience is the important word here, we want to make the festival meaningful and help people get new ideas, find a new passion, or explore hidden talent,  to experiment and even ask questions to the “masters.” For instance, housewives can gain DIY skills and start a pleasant and income-providing hobby or job. Others can learn how to make clap switchers and mosquitoes repellent system on their own and save money.”

A unique element of Hartak is that it provides a platform for great number of human stories: there are 67 speakers such as travellers and IT specialists, DIY gurus and chefs, photographers and healthy lifestyle gurus with different background and experiences. For example, one of the speakers is adventure film director Tom Allen who embarked a bike journey in 2007 and filmed his trip; during his workshop, he’s going to share tips on how to create an interesting travel film. A few of the other several dozen workshops are a master class on Armenian calligraphy, chocolate making, traditional Chinese tea ceremony. The full program is here.

Aroyan, Vahramyan, and Arutyunova expect around 2,000 participants and for an inaugural event, interest seems to be high: they had to turn away some applications for workshops because they ran out of space. Despite this issue, the organizers are hopeful that putting so many creative people “under the same roof” will have a positive effect, especially since so many people from different backgrounds will have a chance to make connections with each other. On what they want to see from the event, the Hartak team says they’re looking forward to seeing people who are eager to get out of their comfort zone, get creative, and explore their talents by trying something new. The way things look, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

The festival will take place from October 16 to 18, 2015. For more information, check out the official Hartak Festival website.

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