Go Viral Festival 2023 Wraps Up in Ashgabat
Panel discussions, masterclasses, film screenings and music provides unique platform for youth across Central Asia.
IWPR’s Go Viral festival completed its regional tour in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat, with students, entrepreneurs and professionals gathering to discuss trends in media, business, culture and technology.
IWPR’s annual Central Asia event brings together experts in the fields of media, business, culture and IT with the aim of sharing knowledge, experience and networking. Through panel discussions, masterclasses, presentations, film screenings and music sessions the festival provides a unique platform for youth across Central Asia.
Thousands participated in the 2023 edition as the festival toured the five Central Asian countries: kicking off in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, the event travelled to Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city, Osh, to Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe and Kazakstan’s Astana, to finish its journey in Turkmenistan.
“We want to create the feeling of unity via them among diverse participants of the bigger Go Viral community across Central Asia,” said Elena Gareyeva, Go Viral Turkmenistan’s ambassador as she presented the 2023 logo: five intertwined arms, symbolising the Central Asian republics. “We believe that art is the instrument that joins and can be used to connect people despite geographical and cultural boundaries.”
The events in the five countries featured discussions and workshops ranging from the impact of disinformation to the promotion of national languages and art, from branding to content monetisation and digitalisation.
“One of the subjects of this festival was Inspiration. Looking at this crowd today, I see many inspired faces and it inspires me,” Matthew Klimow, US ambassador to Turkmenistan, said at the gathering in Ashgabat.
In Tashkent, Go Viral’s ambassador in Uzbekistan Elina Abdullaeva highlighted the opportunity for different streams of thought and experience to mingle.
“Go Viral traditionally focuses on four sectors: business, media, culture and technology. This year we decided to address not only the traditional sectors, but also topics at the intersection of different spheres…because it is in the symbiosis of different areas and knowledge that new ideas are born,” she said.
National identity and how to express it through art and craft was a recurring theme. In Dushanbe, Munira Akilova, founder of the Tajik craft brand Munir, explained how to connect tradition and modernity.
“In 2003, I left teaching and with the help of one needle that I had, I moved into the field of craftsmanship,” she said, adding that the brand was transforming traditional ornaments into contemporary products.
Disinformation and the importance of critical thinking to tackle it and counter it were at the centre of various media panels in Astana. Journalists discussed journalist ethics, how to improve media literacy, particularly among the older generation, and how to monetise content.
The impact of artificial intelligence increasingly penetrating daily life was also a key focus.
“The main challenges are reliability and security, ethical regulations and a small volume of data. All this makes it impossible for us to predict how a robot will behave,” Amira Ibragimova, director of innovation at the American Space in Dushanbe, said during a panel in Tajikistan.