Vol. 6, no 4, Monday, February 6, 2006
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: The ratification phase is now underway!
Speech by Québec prime minister Jean Charest
Photo : Paul Ducharme
IN THIS ISSUE :
This column is devoted to the follow up of the ratification by the Unesco member States of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005 . In our future issues, we will progressively indicate, as soon as possible, the States that have ratified the Convention or pledged to do so, thus allowing you to have a better follow up of that progress. As a reminder, Canada has been so far the only State that ratified this Convention
This text of our chronicle is the last in the series that professor Ivan Bernier produced on the proceedings leading to the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural, particularly its ending at the third session of the intergovernmental meeting of experts.
In the conclusion arising from the study of the draft Convention by the UNESCO General Conference which finally adopted this Convention at its 33 rd session last October 20, 2005, Mr. Bernier makes out two distinct visions of the interface trade/culture that were permanently confronted around this question, reflecting themselves the double nature of culture products, products exchanged at once through trade and language of social communication. According to Mr. Bernier, These two visions, with their own consistency, are equally legitimate: "UNESCO has just as much right, from a cultural viewpoint, to keep in sight the repercussions of the economic globalisation and free trade on the preservation and the development of cultural expressions than WTO has a right, from a commercial viewpoint, to keep in sight the repercussions of the measures set forth within a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. Therefore, unless the UNESCO Member States accept that culture preoccupations be less important than commercial ones, the solution to this problem of international management cannot consist in the genuine affirmation of the preponderance of the commercial perspective over the cultural one. A solution must thereby be found that be respectful at once of either perspectives", he maintains.
Besides, Mr. Bernier notices a "remarkable phenomenon", which is that the resolute opposition from the USA could not triumph over the equally resolute will of the vast majority of the Members to have at their disposal, as soon as possible, an international instrument intended to guarantee the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and which would set culture at an even level with the other international instruments. Thus, he underlines that at the end of arduous negotiations where everyone had to make concessions, those considered that the draft Convention finally approved reflected a very broad consensus and showed the desire that this one be approved by the General Conference as the UNESCO Convention. Several States shared some of the USA preoccupations and the vast majority of them would have appreciated that the latter sign this Convention.
In the end, Mr. Bernier asserts that "If any conclusions may be drawn from this negotiation, it is foremost that political will whenever resting on conviction and courage, will sometimes overcome obstacles seemingly insuperable and that international management may hardly be erected on a scaled down vision of human needs".
For recall :
In today’s world there is a diverse range of cultural and creative industries. Music, books, crafts, films and many other cultural goods and services move across international borders, creating a complex picture of cultural trade flows. Cultural and creative industries alone are estimated to account for over 7% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.
A report, entitled, International Flows of Selected Cultural Goods and Services, 1994-2003, published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, analyses cross-border trade data from about 120 countries on selected products, such as books, CDs, videogames and sculptures. It presents new methodology to better reflect cultural trade flows, contributing to UNESCO’s effort to collect and analyse data that clearly illustrate the central role of culture in economic, social and human development.
This report looks at selected global flows of cultural goods and services. It shows that high-income economies are the largest producers and consumers of cultural goods . Thus, three countries - the United Kingdom, United States and China - produced 40 percent of the world’s cultural trade products in 2002, while Latin America and Africa together accounted for less than four percent according to the report. In this respect, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura declared however: "While globalization offers great potential for countries to share their cultures and creative talents, it is clear that not all nations are able to take advantage of this opportunity (…) without support to help these countries participate in this trade, their cultural voices will remain marginalized and isolated".
The report outlines some of the difficulties in measuring the international flows of cultural and creative industries’ products using the existing industrial and product classifications. It explores innovative ways of presenting existing data and identifying data which could be collected in the future. The lack of data, particularly for cultural services, together with the complex nature of cultural products, means that the Report offers only a partial picture. However, this study represents a step forward in measuring the nature and direction of international cultural trade flows and presenting a more complete global picture of these flows.
However, the report underlines that in line with the recent adoption by UNESCO of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (October 2005), the Organization will pursue its efforts to identify new ways to measure culture and its manifold expressions.
This statistical activity is published by Statistics Canada to provide information and analysis of the value of imports and exports of Canada's merchandise trade data in the culture sector. Thus, the report presents many tables which provide data on trade in culture goods, along with cross-tabulations for trade between Canada and selected countries.
This derived survey is funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The survey produces estimates on the overall trade of culture goods in Canada by commodity groupings and trade partners. The unit of analysis is the commodity as described in the “Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics” . Culture goods include original and mass produced goods which contain culture content, as defined by this framework. Culture goods include creative goods that warrant intellectual property rights and goods, which support creation, production or transmission of other creative goods. More specifically, culture goods include books, magazines, newspapers, postcards, calendars, films, videos, digital videodiscs (DVDs), sheet music, compact discs (CDs), cassettes, vinyl long-playing phonograph records (LPs), paintings (original and reproductions), photographs, sculptures, ornaments and figurines, architectural plans, designs and drawings, advertising materials, museum exhibits, coin and stamp collections, and antiques. Unrecorded media, such as blank CDs, are not included.
These survey estimates are used by various federal departments and agencies. In addition, the data are also useful to international agencies.
The Québec Culture and Communications Observatory has made public the 2005 issue of the annual review Major Statistics on Culture and Communications in Québec (Statistiques principales de la culture et des communications au Québec, édition 2005)
This review published by the Québec Statistics Institute presents statistics that allow evaluating the importance of activities related to the fields of culture and communications in Québec Among other things may be found data on the culture practices of the Québec people, the socioeconomic characteristics of the culture practitioners, the financial assistance from the different levels of Government, the production of culture goods and services as well as their consuming.
Furthermore, this publication is the privileged reference tool to translate into figures the situation in culture and communications and fills the needs for culture operators, researchers and everyone concerned by Québec’s culture development.
The UNESCO/NORAD Artists in Development Creativity Workshop Programme (AiD) focuses on strengthening existing cultural enterprises in developing countries, providing several initiatives with support over a 3 year period to allow them to attain self-sustainability. The programme is rendered possible thanks to a funds in trust agreement with the Norwegian Development Cooperation (NORAD) and following the successful implementation during the year 1999 to 2003 of Phase I of that project that concentrated on creative artists.
The key operating principle is to create working-teams between an international organization and the local counterpart in order to anchor these projects locally while facilitating the sharing of know how and experiences among all participants. Consequently to an international tender for candidacies, 8 new projects were selected out of the fifteen project proposals studied covering the fields of arts and crafts, design, photo-journalism, cinema and music. These initiatives will run over a 2 to 3 year period and the project as a whole is expected to end in September 2007. Then, eight projects are being implemented:
The French Minister of Culture and Communication, Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, has inaugurated, on January 30, 2006, the setting of the Group of strategic analysis of cultural industries (Groupe d’analyse stratégique des industries culturelles - GASIC). This think tank group gathers various important persons from different sectors of culture enterprises, communications, information technologies industries, research or specialized in those domains, and of financial organizations for the culture sector.
GASIC is devoted to ensure a perfect representativeness of shifting industries, but also to gather and compare free analyses on independent expertise and studies in order that the Ministry of Culture and Communication may have pertinent and strategic enlightment in the field of culture and communications industries. In that respect, Minister de Vabres declares: "There was a time when the very term of culture industry was disgusting. Nowadays, we cannot keep up with the number of reports and studies that have followed each other to stress the growing importance of culture and communications industries within economy and employment, their principal function for mediation and access to culture works and achievements. Therefore the coherence and unity of each section of the culture industries are truly substantial, strong and lasting today".
For the Minister, GASIC brings together multiple fields of expertise necessary to face this shifting world represented by the culture industries in order to explain the diversity of culture and communications industries, of their related operators and practitioners, from production through distribution, for the book as well as the video game or the radio, of the new numerical access techniques. And it must be done in cooperation with specialists from finance, from common right regulation of competition and intellectual property, from culture or enterprise economy.
Minister de vabres underlines particularly that the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005 , also opens very broad perspectives : "As soon as it has been ratified by thirty States, and, as rapidly as possible, as wished for by the President of Republic, it will become necessary to survey all the opportunities it presents to support the culture industries, but also all the requirements shown for those industries to become the forerunners of the diversity. I am thinking particularly of the instruments allowing our action towards more balanced international exchanges".
To do so, notes the Minister, the scope of future thoughts and proposals of the GASIC is therefore very broad : "the tools for intervention, for support, the international and community regulations, the financing, the setting up of enterprises, cultural diversity, exports (…), the matter of employment and training since half of culture employment is dependent upon culture industries". This acknowledgement of the economic and social dimensions of culture industries in their diversity must lead to strengthening the vital strategic priority that the cultural activity, in its total diversity, means for France, added the Minister . Thus will be privileged perspectives of consideration, studies and opinions on transversal subjects such as:
"The Québec Government sets up new conditions to encourage the private sector towards a deeper involvement in financing culture and communications. Thanks to Placements Culture, eligible organisations will henceforth have a powerful lever to increase their part of private investments in those fields". Such was the statement made by the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications, Mrs. Line Beauchamp, on at the launching of Placements Culture, last November 20. "Placements Culture presents new possibilities and new capacities to allow the organizations in the fields culture and communications to stabilize their financial situation and to gain access to a source of supplementary income. I am convinced that this program will contribute to changing the behaviour for individuals, enterprises and private foundations and in setting up conditions fostering the increase in financing through donation", continued Minister Beauchamp.
In this respect, Placements Culture will entitle the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), which becomes responsible for the management, to grant a counterpart subsidy to an eligible organization that collects donations and contributions from individuals, enterprises and private foundations in order to make up an endowment fund and a provision fund. The program, that widely draws its inspiration from expert advice within cultural agents, satisfies in part the financing needs of cultural organizations. Any non profit organization established and doing business in Québec becomes eligible if it meets each of the following conditions:
The United Kingdom Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) website provides a rich array of information about cultural industries in the UK, which is a leader in developing public policy to promote the growth of these industries.
In particular the site gives detailed information about the wide range of different financing schemes through an interactive 'Money Map'. It also provides facts and figures about Creative Industries in general, related social and economic indicators and information about educational and training programmes for cultural managers and leaders.
The site manages a discussion forum on creative industries and includes a general discussions forum in addition to a dedicated intellectual property forum, information about cultural export industries and a piracy prevention section plus links to dozens of relevant websites in the UK and abroad.
In this section, we wish to draw your attention, this week, on the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP), namely the proceedings of its 8th Annual Ministerial Meeting, which was held in Dakar, Senegal, from November 21 to 23
INCP, which actually includes 68 Member Countries, is an informal, international forum where national ministers responsible for culture can explore and exchange views on new and emerging cultural policy issues and to develop strategies to promote cultural diversity.
Participants (including Thirty-one members, one special guest, and representatives from five International Organisations) concluding their session with a statement that contained a strong call for countries to ratify the UNESCO Convention quickly. According to the final statement, Ministers, Heads of Delegations and the UNESCO representative underlined the important contribution of the INCP to the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In particular, they noted the necessity of its rapid entry into force and subsequent implementation. They also highlighted the importance of international cooperation, discussed the challenges linked to cultural diversity in relation to social cohesion and sustainable development, as well as the relationship between culture and economy. The Working Group on Cultural Diversity and Globalization, whose mandate was renewed, will identify strategies to stimulate and facilitate ratification of the convention and its implementation.
This eighth annual ministerial meeting of the INCP, held under the theme: "Cultural Diversity, Social Cohesion and Sustainable Development", was thus proffering an important venue to exchange views on the role of cultural diversity as one of the driving forces for intercultural dialogue and its role in development strategies. The debates were held within three sessions purveyed notably by work documents produced for that purpose : Cultural Diversity, Social Cohesion and Sustainable Development; Working Group on Cultural Diversity and Globalization; Building the Future: A Discussion on Emerging Cultural Policy Trends and Issues.
More specifically, the third session brooded over the theme: Culture and the Economy, by addressing in a general approach the role of culture regarding employment, growth and social cohesion. In fact, the participants evolved from the established fact that during the course of INCP meetings held throughout 2005, INCP officials identified the topic of the economic impact of culture as a theme for ministerial discussion during Session 3: Building the Future: A Discussion on Emerging Cultural Policy Trends and Issues. Furthermore, they took into consideration that cultural action can be understood from four basic perspectives: the recognition of cultural diversity and its effects; the pursuit of social cohesion; the strengthening of cultural cooperation to promote mutual understanding and the development of peoples; and as a source of wealth and economic growth. However, the impact of cultural action is difficult to measure due to the differences in and lack of cultural statistics, as well as the absence of an approach that would allow countries to assess the complexity of the crosscutting nature of culture. The inability to measure the results of cultural action, in turn poses a significant challenge when attempting to define public policies.
In an effort to better understand the complex crosscutting nature of culture within societies, the Spanish Ministry of Culture prepared a document which highlights the complex crosscutting nature of culture within society and draws attention to the general lack of cultural statistics that could assist governments in better assessing the impact of culture on employment, growth and social cohesion. This document set forth three avenues for possible future research and analysis. The paper also sets forth a list of possible lines of work on this topic and concludes with a series of questions aimed at initiating discussion.