Bulletin of the INCD, Vol. 5, No 1, January 2005 – 2005/01
The International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD) and the Smithsonian Institution (The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) collaborated in holding a conference on January 10-11, 2005 in Washington, DC on the topic: “Globalization and Diversity, UNESCO and Cultural Policy-Making: Imperatives for U.S. Arts and Culture Practitioners and Organizations."
In a report by James Early, member of the Management Committee of the INCD and president of the Conference, in the Bulletin of the INCD of this month, over 100 representatives from artistic and cultural organizations, libraries, research, cultural policy organizations, cultural personnel from the U.S. Department of State, experts on intellectual property, as well as on the protection of media and individual artists attended the conference. Among participants was Mr. Richard Arndt, U.S. Representative to UNESCO, Mr. Tyler Cowen, a member of the newly re-established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and a group of independant experts who drew up the UNESCO preliminary draft Convention, Mrs Bonnie Richardson, vice-president of the Motion Picture Association (MPAA).
The objectives of this conference were the following: to raise the awareness of U.S. civil society and cultural and artistic organizations of the interest and need to participate in current discussions on cultural diversity, and to attend deliberations on the UNESCO preliminary draft Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions; to promote a widespread national discussion on the UNESCO’s process and create substantial documents on this subject to distribute in various artistic and cultural networks across the country, in order to spark a debate on these issues and collaborate with other artistic and cultural organizations around the world; to encourage collaboration between artistic and cultural organizations and the newly re-established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, by inviting these organizations to submit their recommendations to the Commission, in order to ensure that an effective Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions is adopted within UNESCO: « This Convention will allow for the advancement of cultural integrity and cultural diversity based on intrinsic values; the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in the face of threats of its erosion by market forces and trade liberalization.»
“Are cultural goods and services merely products like any others? How can we ensure that the cultural system reflects the rich diversity of communities that exist in many countries? Can market forces alone ensure national and international cultural diversity?” According to the reporter, these questions allowed participants to provide an outline of the cultural market approach to protect and promote cultural diversity and the commercial approach to culture, which has defined the parameters of the U.S. government’s official position in its deliberations within UNESCO. These issues were also addressed during discussions of the UNESCO preliminary draft Convention, for which participants expressed concerns over the current document, which they feel fails to present a solid framework for promoting cultural diversity, stating that the document puts too much emphasis on language and that its content is structured around trade. [05-02]