The Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity has announced that Robert Pilon will be leaving his position as executive vice-president of the Coalition effective Friday, May 18 in order to pursue new challenges. Coalition co-chair and vice-president and executive director of public affairs for ADISQ Solange Drouin noted that “Robert has been the heart and soul of the Coalition since its inception in 1999. He was the driving force behind what became a veritable international movement of coalitions around the world. We therefore accept his decision with regret, but given all he has accomplished in the last eight years, he is certainly entitled to leave with a sense of having accomplished his mission.”
In describing Pilon’s contribution over the last eight years, Coalition co-chair and president and publisher at Douglas & McIntyre Scott McIntyre added that “during his 120-odd missions to no less than 45 countries, Robert has been a passionate and tireless promoter of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and has made a decisive contribution to rallying cultural organizations from across the world to our cause. Today, coalitions for the diversity of cultural expressions exist in 37 countries and represent over 500 organizations that speak for culture professionals. Robert has been involved in one form or another in the creation of nearly all of these coalitions.”
Upon announcing his departure, Pilon said: “My work at the Coalition has been extremely gratifying. I am thrilled by what we have accomplished as a Canadian Coalition and very proud of the scope of the international movement that we helped spark. I would like to state clearly once again that the success of the campaign in favor of this UNESCO Convention would not have been possible without the hard work of hundreds of people in dozen of countries worldwide, including heads of state and government in leading countries, directors of international organizations, ministers of culture and foreign affairs, senior public servants responsible for this issue, and leaders from cultural sectors.”
As for future steps, Pilon commented that “with the coming into effect of the Convention, the right of countries to establish their own cultural policies has become enshrined in international law. Countries, however, now have the responsibility of exercising this right. I leave the Canadian Coalition with the conviction that we have an excellent team in place to carry on our work in the coming years. And I can assure you that there is plenty of work left to do! While the UNESCO Convention has indeed come into effect, the second phase of the campaign must continue to ensure ratification on a scale worthy of major international treaties. We must secure over 100 ratifications and eventually even 150 or more ratifications.”
Pilon also mentioned that the next two years—a period that begins with the Conference of Parties to be held next June 18 to 20, in Paris—will be decisive for effective implementation of the convention. In this regard, the Coalition press release notes that UNESCO has already confirmed that the coalition movement will be granted observer status at the first Conference of Parties.
To mark the start of this new phase, the Canadian Coalition announced that Jim McKee will take over from Pilon as director general of the Coalition.
The Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity, headquartered in Montreal, is an organization comprised of 36 of Canada’s main cultural organizations representing cultural professionals from the publishing, film, television, music, and performance and visual arts sectors.