The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sweden to UNESCO, Annika Markovic, representing the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, last Thursday, launched UNESCO’s new 2018 ‘Global Report, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies’.
This report, “published with the support of the Swedish Government, monitors how countries around the world are designing policies pursuant to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).
“Diversity remains a battle, in 2018 as in 2005. Culture is not a commodity: it carries values and identities; it gives markers to live together in a globalized world. Our role is to encourage, question, collect data, to understand and energize creative channels, to encourage the mobility of artists, to stimulate a rapidly changing sector in the new digital environment,” stated Ms Azoulay, in opening a panel discussion with all assembled authors.
While acknowledging the increased integration of culture in national development plans and policies by governments around the world, especially the Global South, Azoulay called for affirmative action to address a major funding gap in culture.
“Despite the well-established importance of the creative economy as a driver of growth and employment, the share of development aid spent on culture is today at its lowest level in over a decade. In 2015, 0.22% of total Official Development Assistance (ODA) was spent on culture, in decrease of 45% compared to 2005,” she noted.
Ambassador Markovic welcomed the new Report, stating that it is “the only global document that presents an overview of cultural development world-wide and monitors state action to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions at all levels.”
Referring to some of the key messages in the Report – robust copyright systems as prerequisites for fair remuneration of authors and other rights holders, civil society participation in decision-making, support to women as artists and producers of cultural goods and services, Ambassador Markovic called for enhanced action on freedom of artistic expression.
“Artistic voices are being silenced over the world. Censorship, imprisonment, threats or even killings are frequent. We need to cooperate internationally and join forces to strengthen and promote artistic freedom,” she urged.
The launch was followed by another panel with film producers and distributors on “Towards Support Policies for Independent Cinema?” to address the challenges facing the independent film sector in terms of funding and distribution in the new digital environment.
A related UNESCO event on 12 December entitled “Cultural and Creative Industries: A New Agenda for the Development Community?” brought together representatives from various development banks and agencies, and governmental partners, to discuss new strategies to grow investments in the creative sectors through development aid (See News release).
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions worked further on these issues during its 11th session held at UNESCO Headquarters from 12 – 15 December. The Committee selected seven projects from developing countries to be beneficiaries the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD), which will boost implementation of the 2005 Convention. These diverse projects support cinema, theatre, public art and policies, and cultural entrepreneurship, and include important models of South-South cooperation.
Within the framework of the Committee’s session, the film Dede was screened at UNESCO Headquarters and included a discussion between the young Georgian Director of the film, Mariam Khatchvani, and the public. Dede is the winner of the Asia Pacific Screen Award 2017 Cultural Diversity Award, presented annually under the patronage of UNESCO.