Thursday, September 8, 2016

  • Meet with one of Mongolia’s most important women, former member of parliament, Oyungerel Tsedendamba, and her friends at her club, which encourages Mongolian democracy: 

    Summary of our visit with Oyungerel and friends
    by Carolyn MoatsWe met with Oyungerel Tsedendamba who was a former member of Parliament from 2012 to 2016. She also was the 2009 human rights adviser to the Mongolian president. Ms. Tsedendamba served in parliament at a time when 11 out of 76 members were women.Ms. Tsedendamba’s background includes writing 13 books, attending graduate school at Stanford, and being a fellow at Yale University. She has been very active working on human rights legislation, specifically around domestic violence, and she was instrumental in passing the 2016 Bill making domestic violence a crime for the first time. The Democratic Party, however, was defeated in the spring of 2016; The Mongolian People’s Party is currently in power, and they rescinded this legislation soon after taking control of Parliament.During our time at Ms. Tsedendamba’s club, the Delegation also met a Harvard-trained Mongolian lawyer who worked on the domestic violence legislation. She reported that the United Nations population fund has pledged $4 million to implement the law if the domestic violence legislation is reinstated.


    1. Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash, former state secretary of the Ministry of Justice. Graduated from Harvard Law School. Email:

    2. Zola, Zolzaya Batkhuyag. She is a founder and director of the Women for Change, NGO. She is one of the most active young women in Mongolian civil society. Has fluent English. Email:

    3. Odmaa Oyungerel, just graduated from the National University of Mongolia majoring in English language translation, from August 1, she will start her job at Red Cross Mongolia as a youth program officer. Has nearly fluent English. Her email:

    4. Erdenetsetseg. Executive director of Princess Center, NGO. Princess Center helps youth to understand reproductive health, and it helps teenagers and young mothers to overcome barriers in society. Has good English. Her email:

    5. Nasanjargal. Lives in Muren town of Khuvsgul province. Accountant by profession, participates in women’s development and environmental projects and initiatives. Supporter of many women politicians. Has beginner’s level English. Email:

    6. Oyuntsetseg Tsedevdamba, Director of Delgermurun river basin authority, lives in Muren, Khuvsgul province. Has a long-term hobby to plant flowers. Has beginner’s level English. Email:

    7. Saruul, journalist by profession. Works in a political club “Mongolian Democracy Initiative”. Has limited but improving English. Email:

    8. Orolzod from Ulaanbaatar. Works in a political club “Mongolian Democracy Initiative. Aims to succeed in politics one day, works to build network among democracy supporters. Has limited English. Her email:

    9. Tsolmonbayar, lives in Ulaanbaatar. Works at the Democratic Party as a chief of a division. Aims to learn fundraising for women. Sociologist by profession. Has good English. Email:

    10. Munkhzul Chuluunbat, Director of the Mongolian National Opera Theater. Has fluent English. email:

  • Visit Women’s Business Center run by The Asia Foundation and hear young entrepreneurs describe their businesses.
  • View collection at the Fine Arts Museum under leadership of Saratunya Urtnasan.

    Summary of Museum Visit
    by Nancy Uscher

    The Delegation heard an excellent example of Mongolian traditional music at the entrance of the museum before the tour. The musician Bayasgalan.Z performed on the horse headed fiddle, utilizing the musical techniques of throat singing (khuumii) and long song. This was a high point of the visit to the museum. The Delegation learned in the opening presentation that the museum was established in 1965. Over the years, selected exhibitions have traveled to many countries in the world, including the United States. There are 18,000 pieces, of which only 20% are displayed at any given time. In 1913 the first museum building was constructed by Russian tradespeople on a site that was in the front of a street used for trade.

    In perusing the collection, the Delegation saw what are considered more contemporary works, as well as works of different historical periods. In the first category are works by Balduu Sharav (1869-1939) whose nickname was “Marzan.” Two of his major works, Airag Feast and One Day of Mongolia, depict scenes in the everyday life of Mongolians. Other works by Nicholas Roerich (1879-1947) and Dugar Zaisar (1959-) are on display as well.

    The historical collection included beautiful Mongol appliqué pieces of intricate detail. The unique Mongolian designs feature outstanding needlework derived from the early art of Hunnu felt appliqué. This work is based on a 2,000 year old Mongolian tradition. Thangka painting is named for a Tibetan term identifying Buddhist painting.This work, which peaked in the 19th and 20’th centuries. Thangkas often depict deities in either either wrathful or peaceful forms.

    Among the other interesting exhibits were the handprints of G. Zanabazar (1635-1723) who is credited with creating the 92 letter alphabet based on Tibetan Sanskrit. There were also paper mache masks, an array of 19th century instruments, examples of the woodblock printing technique developed into an independent form of fine art in the 6th century in Eastern Asia. and, finally, examples of art featuring the Kalachakra Mandala, representing the Kalachakra deity’s universe.

  • Learn about the vibrant contemporary Mongolian arts scene at the Art Council of Mongolia led by Odgerel Odonchimeg.

    Summary of visit to Arts Council

    by Cherie Doyle Riesenberg
    Rather than being a government agency or federally funded, the Arts Council of Mongolia (ACM) is a unique non-profit partner and benefactor of an American 501-C3 corporation, ACM-US.  ACM was founded in 2002 with support and initial funding from the SOROS foundation to support arts and culture after Mongolia experienced drastic government spending cuts and social upheaval following the departure of the Soviet Union from Mongolian governance.  ACM-US provides ongoing funding and support.
    Projects include Residencies and Fellowships for artists, Community Arts Education programs, Cultural Heritage programs, and Development programs aimed at sustaining financial support, cultivating community partnerships and ACM memberships.
    A small organization with a staff of 8, the ACM offers a dazzling array of performances, exhibition support, and community projects in Ulan Bataar and other districts in Mongolia.  More information is available at
    Odgerel Odonchimed
    Executive Director
    Oyundari Khurelbataar
    Community Arts Education Program Director
    Contact information:
    Chungeltei district, Juulchin Street
    Delta Center, 4th Floor, 402
    PO Box 491, Post Office #38
    Ulaanbataar-211238, Mongolia
    +976-11-319017 / 319015

    Observations Regarding the Role of the Arts in Mongolian Society
    by Nancy Uscher

    I came to Mongolia with the goal of investigating how the arts affect the lives of the Mongolian people. I have spent years collecting information about the interesting and sometimes unlikely ways in which the arts are integrated into the lives of societies from a global perspective. Some examples of the range of creative ways in which the arts catalyze social change include Dance for Parkinson’s; plays about HIV AIDS in Papua New Guinea that convey healthful attitudes about the disease to the society through story-telling; teaching women crafts in Cambodia and Rwanda to provide them a pathway toward sustainable lives through artistic expression; and also selected design for social change activities in various parts of the world.

    In Mongolia I came across some powerful and varied examples of the vitality and original ways of thinking about the arts in the society. At the Arts Council of Mongolia, Odgerel Odonchimed, Executive Durector and Oyundari Khurelbaatar, Community Arts Education Program Director, provided an overview of the work being done on behalf of the Ulaanbaatar community. Arts projects are being created to address domestic violence, sustainability, and such topics as water safety, pollution. and learning disabilities. In addition to this art integrated with other sectors to address ways of serving the public good, the Arts Council supports a film festival, artist residencies ( in cooperation with Nomadic Expeditions) and numerous opportunities to bring arts to children as part of the holistic education provided to youth. Additionally, we came across an art gallery that actively promotes the linkage of art practice with social issues. The Korean industry partners and Development Solutions (Bat–Ordhikh Erdenebat, Executive Director) and The Asia Foundation — supported business incubator program illuminated that a rich creativity in fashion and jewelry design exists in Mongolia. The interesting museum culture exposes a juxtaposition of the historical and the contemporary thinking and a performing arts environment enhances lives, both complementing the social aspects of art practice that are part of Mongolian society.

    In conclusion, not only are there fresh and original ideas propelling arts forward in Mongolia as a dynamic part of the society– both as a public good and to enrich lives– there is also an admirably sophisticated knowledge about the arts from a global perspective. This includes a universal interest regarding the relationship between art and economics, participation in an international arts policy discussion, and an understanding about the need to produce compelling data to support increased funding from foundations and governmental agencies world-wide. In other words, not only are there particularly original ideas being practiced in the country to underscore the exciting dynamism of the arts, but also on a larger scale, impressive members of the leadership group in the arts sector are presenting at world conferences where they are likely to have impact beyond Mongolia and its environs.

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