On October 18, 1991, Azerbaijan regained its independence and it was both an economic and moral victory of Azerbaijani people. Today, Azerbaijan’s education, culture, in general, all areas of economic, social, cultural, spiritual and political life meet world standards.
As the process of returning to the roots, self-consciousness of Azerbaijani nation, assimilation of the rules of coexistence of Azerbaijani people and state by civilized humanity intensifies, the celebration of the universal culture of the Azerbaijani people is even more obvious. The achievements in the field of culture during the thirty years of the independence give grounds to say that the years of independence have entered Azerbaijani history as the years of the triumph of Azerbaijani culture.
Changes in the socio-political life of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, tense processes, new features of the time had a great impact on music, enriched it with new topics. The role of national leader Heydar Aliyev had great role in the development of Azerbaijani music during the period. As a result of his patronage and care, purposeful policy, Azerbaijani culture and art were developed in the difficult socio-economic situation of the country.
The history of Azerbaijani cinema is part of the history of Azerbaijani culture. National cinematography opens bottoms of human heart and new live horizons. It gained great experience year-by-year and created number of different works, reflecting our people's life and problems. These films were kept for future generations and became people's spiritual knowledge.
Research of theatre, cinema, music and folk art, passed long and difficult way of development, proves high cultural heritage of Azerbaijan people.
On December 18, 2014 State Service for Protection, Development and Restoration of Cultural Heritage was established under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Most of the most important projects implemented in Azerbaijan with the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The projects are cover the field of culture and art. In recent years, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has done important work to promote our cultural heritage.
Mugham as one of the oldest musical genres of the East has always attracted the attention of musicologists, critics of the world. The genre has become the object of analysis of researchers as one of the main factors in the study of ancient and medieval Eastern music culture and folklore.
During the period of independence of Azerbaijan, the national mugham performing arts has entered a new stage of development. In modern history, crucial role in development of the Azerbaijani Mugham was played by numerous activities carried out by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Artistic values of Azerbaijani mugham for national culture and the culture of the whole world and its high sense acknowledged by highly authorized international organization UNESCO in 2003. On 7 November, 2003 .UNESCO held a special award ceremony in Paris, identifying 28 Declared Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of the World. UNESCO appreciated mugham as one of the masterpieces of the verbal and non-material heritage of the world.
In recent years, Azerbaijan has carried out a number of large-scale projects, mugham contests, released music album “Karabakh singers”, produced magazine “Mugham”, published “Encyclopedia of Mugham”. The multimedia collection “The Azerbaijani Mugam” based on modern technology was presented as the first textbook.
During the period of independence, the chamber-instrumental works of Azerbaijani composers are distinguished by the diversity of content, variety of forms and styles, the originality of the composition of instruments. Composers use the genre mostly, as there are opportunities to try new topics, modern means of expression, new writing techniques. The principles of using national music and folk instruments in the works of composers are being renewed, new, colorful forms of synthesis of modern music with folk music are appearing.
For the first time in the history of Azerbaijan, World Heritage List of UNESCO included the State Historical-Architectural Reserve “Icherisheher” with the Shirvanshahs Palace and Maiden Tower.
At the meeting of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Intangible Heritage held on 26 November, 2014 Azerbaijan’s kelaghayi art was entered on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the title of “Traditional art and symbolism of Kelaghayi”.
The document on the inclusion of the Azerbaijan’s kelaghayi art in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO was presented to the president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva at the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the motto “Sharing Culture for a Shared Security” on May 18, 2015 in Baku.
In addition to kelaghayi, Azerbaijan’s mugham performance art, ashig art, Novruz Holiday, Azerbaijani carpet, tar playing art and Lahij coppersmith art were also entered on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and Chovken, Garabagh’s traditional horseback played game, was entered on the organization’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The 11th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on November 28-December 2, 2016. The Committee decided to include “Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katirma, Jupka, Yufka” initiated by Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The preparation of dolma has been included in UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as the Azerbaijani tradition during the twelfth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea on December 4-9, 2017.
Jointly presented by Azerbaijan and Iran “Art of crafting and playing Kamancha” has been included in UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the twelfth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea.
The 13th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Port Louis, the capital of the Republic of Mauritius on November 26 - December 1, 2018. The decision adopted in the session envisaged the including of the issues related to Azerbaijan, such as the nomination of “Yalli (Kochari, Tenzere), traditional group dances of Nakhchivan” submitted to the Committee for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, a multinational nomination "Heritage of Dede Qorqud/ Korkyt Ata/ Dede Korkut, epic culture, folk tales and music" jointly submitted by Azerbaijan, Turkey and Kazakhstan for the inscription on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and national report "Chovqan, a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game in the Republic of Azerbaijan".
The nomination “Sheki, the historical center of Sheki together with the Khan’s Palace” was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List on at the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held on July 7, 2019 at the Baku Congress Center.
Over the past years, according to the Orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, anniversaries of many prominent figures of culture and art were celebrated.
In 2013, the 140th anniversary of the Azerbaijan professional theater was widely celebrated.
By presidential decree signed on 18 September, 1995 "On holding Uzeyir Music Day", Azerbaijan celebrates this day annually in the country as a Uzeyir Music Day.
Gabala International Music Festival is traditionally held in the city of Gabala every summer since 2009.
Special attention is paid to the development of the cultures of minorities, national minorities and ethnic groups living in the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2016, Baku Media Center produced a film “Under One Sun” with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation as part of the “Year of Multiculturalism” project in Azerbaijan. The film crew interviewed 134 representatives of 17 ethnic groups. The main message of the film is the presence of tolerant environment in Azerbaijan and the equality of all citizens, regardless of religion and nationality.
In 2018, Nakhchivan, one of the ancient Azerbaijani city, was declared the capital of Islamic culture .
A number of state documents adopted in the past in connection with art – “Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Theater and Theater Activity”, an Order “On the Development of Theatrical Art in Azerbaijan”, "Azerbaijan Theater in 2009-2019","On the development of Azerbaijani cinema in 2008-2019".
The state policy in the field of culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan is an integral part of the general state policy. On December 21, 2012, the Law on Culture was adopted.
“The state program on restoration, protection of immovable historical and cultural monuments, enhancement and development of activities of historical and cultural reserves for 2014-2020" was implemented. On February 14, 2014, “The Culture Concept of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was approved by the Order of the President for the purpose of providing the development of Azerbaijani culture, protection against internal and external threats, successful integration to the world culture, human and civil rights and freedom in the field of culture.
The state programmes “The development of library-information sphere in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2008-2013”, "The Development of Azerbaijani Cinema 2008-2018", “Azerbaijan Theatre in 2009-2019”, “The restoration, protection of immovable historical and cultural monuments, enhancement and development of activities of historical and cultural reserves for 2014-2020" have been realized.
The country is home to 240 museums: 76 of them are historical, 42 are memorial, 69 museums are dedicated to local history, 41 – to art history and 12 are museums of other kinds. There are 29 theaters in Azerbaijan, including 1 opera and ballet theater, 19 drama, comedy and music theaters, 9 children’s and youth theaters, also 2922 libraries, including 410 in cities and 2512 in villages. Today, there are 2,231 club establishments in the country, including 335 clubs in cities and 1896 clubs in villages. (01.01.2021).
After the liberation of the cultural center of Azerbaijan – Shusha on November 8, 2020, multifaceted cultural construction works were carried out in the city. Shusha hosted “Kharibulbul” festival on May 12-13, Vagif Poetry Days on August 30-31, the 13th Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival on September 18-24, 2021.
On August 29, 2021, the opening ceremonies of a statue of Uzeyir Hajibeyli, a house-museum of Bulbul and a bust of Molla Panah Vagif and a museum-mausoleum complex were held in Shusha.
Azerbaijan’s success in the social and economic spheres, its ever-increasing prestige in the international arena have created favorable conditions for the implementation of the cultural rights of the country’s citizens enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Today, the rights and freedoms of everyone in the field of culture in the Republic of Azerbaijan are guided by the principles and norms of international law.