Vol. 8, no 2, Monday, January 21, 2008
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are Underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
At the first Conference of Parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Intergovernmental Committee was tasked with developing operational directives for convention implementation. The Committee held a first meeting in Ottawa, Canada, from December 10 to 13, 2007. Other meetings will be held before the next Conference of Parties, slated for June 2009 in Paris, France.
At press time, 77 states had ratified the treaty. On December 20 2007, Benin deposited its ratification instrument with UNESCO, thereby joining the ranks of Member States to the Convention.
Efforts to implement the treaty are well underway, but the mobilization campaign to encourage Member States who haven't already done so to ratify the treaty must continue with commitment and conviction. The Convention's legitimacy will be directly proportional to the number of countries from all parts of the world that ratify, accept, approve, or join the treaty.
On January 15 and 16, 2008, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura took part in the First Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Madrid. The event brought together numerous political leaders, representatives from international and local organizations, donor agencies, civil society organizations, and foundations.
According to the UNESCO press release, Mr. Matsuura spoke on January 15, during the first plenary session devoted to examining the challenges of managing diversity in a globalized world. The director-general echoed the sentiments of several speakers when he stated that “education remains a key element for promoting dialogue between cultures and religions, and governments have a great responsibility to live up to their commitment to providing a quality education for everyone.” The press release mentions that Mr. Matsuura also “highlighted the cooperative role UNESCO plays at the international level in the field of education, and assured participants that they could count on the organization for help in implementing their projects in their respective countries and at the regional level”
The press release adds that Mr. Matsuura and the UN secretary general's high representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, signed a cooperative agreement between UNESCO and the Alliance of Civilizations. The goal of this agreement is to “identify concrete fields of action in order to promote dialogue between cultures and civilizations and reinforce mutual understanding, tolerance, respect, and peaceful coexistence.”
The agreement will initially last for two years and outlines activities and policies to be carried out conjointly between UNESCO and the Alliance of Civilizations in conjunction with public authorities at every level, as well as with civil society, NGOs, and the private sector. UNESCO adds that this agreement “outlines the development of educational, cultural, and scientific content by encouraging dialogue, and reciprocal appreciation, more youth exchanges to surmount cultural barriers, the promotion of means of communication as vectors of tolerance, and even the establishment of new multilateral partnerships to promote multilingualism and identify and bring together students, researchers, and scientists from different cultural backgrounds as well as religious leaders and other opinion leaders with a view to promoting mutual respect.”
In a dispatch dated January 10, 2008, the European Commission discusses the adoption of a “new EU strategy [that] promises easier, faster and wider internet and mobile phone access to music, films and games”.
The Commission states that “Multimedia content is big business – revenue from online content is set to more than quadruple (from €1.8bn in 2005 to €8.3bn in 2010). If Europe really wants to harness the potential of the online content industry, content creators need to be paid fairly, there needs to be more certainty and consumers should have more choice. The EU has adopted a new strategy to address these issues.”
“We have to make a choice in Europe,” says information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding, “do we want to have a strong film, music and games industry?” “With the answer being a firm ‘yes,' the EU is concentrating on four areas of action:
The Commission announced that a proposal should be ready by mid-2008, “suggesting how to create a single market for online content without damaging intellectual property rights.” A public consultation continues until 29 February—with all stakeholders encouraged to take an active part in the debate.
For more information, please visit the Commission's website at the following address:
On January 17, 2008, the European Audiovisual Observatory announced that it has added several new user functions to its database on legal information relevant to the audiovisual sector in Europe - IRIS MERLIN. This free-access database contains over 4,000 articles on the latest legal developments in the media field. These articles describe relevant laws, decisions of various courts and administrative authorities, and policy documents from 58 countries. They also report on legal instruments, decisions and policy documents of major European and international institutions.
According to the press release, IRIS MERLIN is searchable by such criteria as key topics, country or the name of the issuing organization of a text. In order to make this invaluable research tool more user-friendly, a ‘basket' function has been added which allows users to stock all the articles of interest to them in their user's basket. IRIS MERLIN users can then export all the articles free of charge together into a single WORD document or, alternatively, to a single PDF document by clicking on the relevant icon in the basket area.
Susanne Nikoltchev, Head of the Observatory's Department for legal information which regularly updates the IRIS MERLIN database said that “these new user facilities have, in effect, turbocharged what was already a very powerful legal research tool for anyone writing about the audiovisual industries in Europe.”
Contact: Alison Hindhaugh
Last November 21, in preparation for the Francophonie Summit to be held in Québec City in 2008, Association PlanetAgora, in partnership with CÉRIUM and with the support of OIF (International Organization of the Francophonie), organized a public debate of the Permanent Forum on Cultural Pluralism. The conference was held in Montréal, Canada. Its theme was “Is the Francophonie a response to cultural globalization?”
OIF (International Organization of the Francophonie) has announced that the Fonds francophone de production audiovisuelle du Sud, a fund supporting audiovisual production in the developing countries, “adapts its methods to the requirements brought about by rapid and profound changes in the sector in order to maintain the quality of service provided to film and television production in developing countries.” Created in 1988, the fund is a multilateral francophone funding apparatus placed under the joint responsibility of OIF and the International Council of French-Speaking Radio and Television (CIRTEF).
The announcement said that the 2008 budget for the fund would be 2.2 million euros, divided equally between film and television.
OIF explained that project eligibility criteria would be tightened, with a focus on quality and viability. According to the press release, OIF wishes to turn the fund into more than just a source of financing by making it a production assistant, promotional, and distribution tool in order to help projects reach a wider public.”
The press release also announces that the project selection committee will be divided into two parts, one for film and one for television. Each will be composed of six industry professionals—with one or two representatives from the television side sitting on the film selection committee and vice versa—as well as permanent members from OIF and CIRTEF.
The press release further states that the objectives of the OIF's "Image" program is, now more than ever, to:
The OIF announced that two rounds of selection will now be held annually. In 2008, they will be held on the following dates:
On January 14, 2008, Josée Verner, minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, and Peter Herrndorf, president and chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, launched the Podcasts.culture.ca website, the Government of Canada's very first directory of Canadian cultural podcasts.
Podcasts.culture.ca, an online service accessible through Culture.ca, is a new Internet directory of audio and video files for listening or viewing on demand. According to the Canadian Heritage press release, Web visitors are invited to download the files directly from the directory, which has a starting collection of more than 300 Canadian podcasts related to the arts, heritage, and society. The release adds that the collection is constantly changing and growing.
"Podcasts.culture.ca is an excellent tool for raising the profile of Canadian talent," said Minister Verner. "It offers Canadians a collection of links to hundreds of cultural podcasts which represent the vitality and diversity of Canadian culture online."
"The National Arts Centre is very pleased to be able to lend its expertise in new media, specifically podcasting, to this important project," said Mr. Herrndorf. It is wonderful that we are able to bring an opportunity for Canadians to explore a wealth of online cultural content."
The press release concludes by stating that “together with the National Arts Centre, the Department of Canadian Heritage has designed the new podcast directory to help Canadians more easily share and express their cultural experiences with one another and the rest of the world”.
Readers are invited to visit the website at the following address:
According to the Council of Europe, its director of culture and cultural and natural heritage, Robert Palmer, spoke during the fifth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers held in Tripoli, Libya, on 21-23 November 2007. Quoting Mr. Palmer, the Council's press release states: “With many common interests, now is an ideal moment to extend our partnership with ISESCO and its member states, particularly in relation to intercultural dialogue. Sharing information on cultural policies, developing exchanges between artists and involving ISESCO in the activities of the Council's North-South Centre are a few avenues we should explore.”
ISESCO is the International Islamic Organization for Education, Science and Culture, established in 1982. It represents 50 member states of the Islamic world.
In a recent press release, Québec's Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI) announced that five Quebec films from 2007 were presented during the 19th Palm Springs International Film Festival in California. The event was held January 3 to 14, 2008. Festival-goers were treated to L'Âge des ténèbres; Les 3 P'tits Cochons; J'ai serré la main du diable; Continental, un film sans fusil et Toi. (Days of Darkness, Three Little Pigs, Shake Hands With the Devil, Continental, A Film Without Guns, and You)
MRI noted that, thanks to the efforts of Québec the Government Office in Los Angeles with festival organizers and to the support of SODEC (Société de développement des entreprises culturelles), Quebec films are regularly featured in major festivals across the territory served by the Office—the 13 states western states. The press release adds that “This means Québec is represented at Sundance, the most prestigious film festival in the United States, and the Seattle International Film Festival, the country's most-attended. And of course we can't forget other festivals, like Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”
Established 37 years ago, the Québec Government Office in Los Angeles plays an important role, both economically and culturally. “For the government of Québec, which is very active in the United States, these two roles go hand in hand. The presence of Québec films at the Palm Springs Film Festival—the biggest in California —is a good example of the presence of Québec culture in the US,” declared Québec's Minister of International Relations, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay.
“The promotion and distribution of Québec films around the world is one the priorities of the government of Québec. Québec film makers and other artists have proven time and again that the rich and unique character of their work can charm audiences across the globe,” added Québec's Minister of Culture, Communications, and the Status of Women, Christine St-Pierre.
This year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival presented 212 films from 66 countries.