Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Les industries culturelles des pays du Sud : enjeux du projet de convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle

M. Francisco d’Almeida et Mme Marie Lise Alleman, Association Culture et développement, aôut 2004 - 2004/08

This report was written for the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (AIF) and the High Council of the Francophonie by Francisco d’Almeida and Marie Lise Alleman, in cooperation with Bernard Miège and Dominique Wallon. According to its authors, it is “the product of the first comprehensive attempt to assess the economic importance of the cultural industries of the South. It is a starting point for understanding the economic, institutional, and cultural realities facing cultural industries in the southern nations.” The authors chose to work with a selection of sectors and countries whose macroeconomic and social indicators are representative of the situation in the South. Acknowledging the importance of statistical data for such a study, they note that “one of the results of our work is to reveal the shortage of comprehensive data on these industries and the need to harmonize data collection procedures in order to arrive at a common ‘model’ for the international community.” In this regard, they argue that there is an “urgent need for a program on the economic aspects of culture in the southern countries, since the lack of information available to government authorities and professionals is one of the obstacles to the development of cultural industries.

The report is based on the postulate that “the possibility for all peoples to express their vision of life through their artistic works and cultural expressions, and to have access to those of others, is a primordial public good that must be preserved and developed. However, due to their failure to recognize the economic and social contribution of cultural industries, few southern nations, especially in francophone Africa, have public policies supporting these industries.” The study’s authors have three objectives: identify indicators to measure the current or potential economic contribution of cultural industries; pinpoint structural obstacles to the development of cultural industries that require public policy solutions; explore the economic and cultural rationale for an international convention on cultural diversity.

In their study, the authors reach the conclusion that the diversity of cultural industries in the South (e.g., structural differences in distribution networks, orientation toward domestic markets, limits on competitiveness in external markets) precludes their characterization as a homogenous entity. Government strategies and public policy initiatives must therefore take diverse forms. The priority is to structure an economic, legal, and technical environment that creates the conditions conducive to local production that contributes to the national economy and cultural diversity. In this light, government strategies and public policies are a decisive factor in strengthening cultural diversity. International cooperation and solidarity could contribute to the development and implementation of strategies and policy through sector action plans drawn up on a country-by-country and region-by-region basis. Impending negotiations on the draft convention on cultural diversity are of vital importance for the countries of the South. The issue for these nations is to legitimize public policy to generate visibility and ensure the economic viability of their cultural products. The analysis of the draft convention shows that through its objectives and its special provisions for the developing countries, it represents a vital asset for the development of southern cultural industries and the promotion of cultural diversity both at the global and national levels. According to the authors, by actively contributing to finalizing and signing the convention, the countries of the South, will guarantee the viability and dynamism of their cultural industries and gain from intercultural exchange and dialog. (Available in French) [72]