Cultural diversity

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Brussels Declaration by artists and cultural professionals and entrepreneurs

On April 3, the artists and cultural professionals and entrepreneurs gathered in Brussels as part of the International conference on Culture and Creativity as Vectors for Development adopted a declaration including 32 recommendations. Excerpts from the declaration follow. The full text is available on the International conference on Culture and Creativity as Vectors for Development website.

“We, artists, professionals, and culture entrepreneurs from the countries of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific and European Union member States, met in Brussels from April 1 to 3, 2009 at the invitation of the Council of the ACP Group and the European Commission. The objective of this meeting was to facilitate a dialogue concerning current and future issues of cultural cooperation, the importance of the cultural sector for the consolidation of a knowledge-based society, and a creative economy based on the needs and expectations of professionals from ACP countries and on the priority guidelines needed for programs of cultural cooperation between ACP countries and the European Union [...].

“As clearly announced by the title of the colloquium, the intention to articulate culture, creation, and development by involving culture professionals from ACP countries and Europe with high-level ACP and European Union politicians gives us hope. It makes us believe that this Declaration will not be a new international text without political and operational followup. If it is supported by the political leaders of the European Union and ACP countries, this declaration has a real chance to create a new dynamic.

“Today, all countries face a profound crisis: financial, economic, and social. In addition, particularly for developing countries, there are climate, energy, food, and human security crises. Current policies on development cooperation do not respond adequately to the challenges of sustainable development. We must, therefore, rethink our approach to development. And, without wishing to overstate the power of culture, we are convinced that, as already stated by Léopold Sédar Senghor, ‘culture is at the beginning and the end of development.’

“Many surveys and studies show us that culture and art is one of the most dynamic economic sectors in terms of employment, economic growth, and wealth creation. It also promotes social cohesion and democratic participation in public life. Finally, unlike mineral resources, social and cultural capital is a renewable resource. Regarding North-South cooperation, it can not succeed without the improvement of human rights, democracy, and governance. By stimulating individual and collective imagination and creating links between communities, culture and artistic creation contribute to the establishment and development of democracy.

“Because culture contributes to economic development, well-being, and social cohesion and impacts other sectors of development, we, artists, professionals, and culture entrepreneurs are making three key requests:

  • First, that culture be the subject of public structural policies at national, regional, and international levels
  • Second, that the cultural dimension be taken into account by other sectoral policies and defined in a integrated approach to development
  • Finally, that artists and creators be fully recognized as actors in development and have a professional and social status adapted to their own context

“[...] To ensure the success of this initiative, we call on the ACP States, the European Union, and the regional and multilateral cooperation agencies to improve coordination and synergies of their interventions with full respect for the autonomy of the artist and his or her creation. It is equally necessary to significantly increase financial resources. We believe the source of the inertia we deplore is that financial means allocated are insufficient to attain aspirations, however noble they may be.

“We, artists, professionals, and culture entrepreneurs from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Europe, all members of the area covered by the Cotonou Agreement which, in terms of respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, is an example for the rest of the world, adopt this Declaration and call for the establishment of a monitoring committee.

“We affirm our commitment to contribute, through our work and our creations, to the advent of a new society where each member may assert his or her dignity and creativity and contribute to the construction of a better world.”