Vol. 8, no 19, Monday, June 2, 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, 83 states had ratified the treaty. Recently, Argentina, Hungary, and Zimbabwe deposited their ratification instruments 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 May 23, 2008, in Strasbourg, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Terry Davis and Secretary General of La Francophonie Abdou Diouf signed a joint statement aimed at reinforcing cooperation between the council of Europe and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF).
At the signing of the joint statement, Mr. Davis declared, “The OIF is much more than a cultural entity based on language. It is a political organization whose influence and efficiency are inarguable. The organization shares the same values as the Council of Europe—defending and promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We consider the OIF a very important partner, particularly in work related to promoting these fundamental values.”
For his part, Mr. Diouf expressed his joy at signing this agreement with the Council of Europe, stating, “My wish is to reinforce concerted effort and coordination and to combine our efforts and resources in order to increase the effectiveness of our cooperation and assistance to the public. It is our common duty to find the means of enhancing and reinforcing relations between the OIF and important institutions like the Council of Europe.”
According to an OIF press release describing the event, “The structured dialogue established between the two partners will lead to concrete actions based on working together effectively. It will also be a testament to the added value of collaboration between these two partners. Development efforts will focus on the following areas: human rights, democracy, legal status, cultural diversity, education, youth, media, and civil society.”
On May 21, UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura concluded the round table discussions organized by UNESCO headquarters during the celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
A news report published by UNESCO states that the meeting entitled “Cultural diversity as seen by artists and creators” brought together RFO director of cultural affairs and regional cooperation Marijosée Alie, filmmaker Rachid Benhadj, UNESCO artist for peace and Gipsy Kings founder Chico Bouchikhi, poet, painter, and calligraphist Fan Zeng, geneticist Axel Kahn, writer Henri Lopes, actor and singer La Lupa, artist/painter Ricardo Mosner, fashion stylist Sakina M’sa, and photographer Patrick de Wilde. Discussions were presided over by Gora Patel, director of RFO radio broadcasts.
According to the report, Matsuura feels that the round table laid the groundwork for further exploration and reflection on ways of developing measures and policies to support artists and other creators. Matsuura stated that one of UNESCO’s basic missions is to “encourage the development of environments that foster creativity.” Adding that “integrating the values of cultural diversity into education programs is crucial in that regard. […] Those who are aware of the importance of creativity have a good chance of being creative themselves, as a sort of echo effect of what they have learned.”
He stressed the importance of the market for creative people. “One of the key factors of success as an artist is being able to enter the market without being consumed by its requirements.” He also mentioned the importance of protecting artist’s creative rights. “There is a lot of work left to be done in this area as well in order to consolidate and even guarantee those rights.”
Matsuura ended by saying, “Finally, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear me mention the strategic importance of international cooperation. UNESCO was founded on the principle of humanity’s intellectual and moral solidarity, as declared in its constitution. It is up to the international community, in the broadest sense of the term, to come together to preserve and celebrate cultural diversity. I hope this first meeting becomes a regular event. It is a sign of our openness to all types of partnerships.”
We are pleased to announce the publication of the study entitled “The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: a Cultural Instrument at the Junction of Law and Politics,” by Professor Ivan Bernier.
The goal of this analysis is to clarify the scope of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Expression of Cultural Diversity and to highlight its potential as a cultural instrument. More specifically, the authors address three issues. The first is in regards to the objective and scope of the Convention, meaning its specificity as an international cultural instrument. The second looks at the proposed action plan for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. The third focuses on how to approach situations where commercial considerations interfere with cultural considerations.
Musée de la civilisation à Québec presents “Le musée du quai Branly. Regards sur la diversité culturelle” until February 22, 2009. Two exhibitions of African artifacts from Paris’s new Musée du quai Branly entitled “Ideqqi. Art de femmes berbères” and “Objets blessés. La réparation en Afrique” will be on display during this time.
“Le musée du quai Branly. Regards sur la diversité culturelle” will be part of the public activities program during the twelfth Sommet de la Francophonie, which will take place in Québec City from October 17 to 19, 2008. This exhibition from Musée du quai Branly was adapted by Musée de la civilisation de Québec. The exhibition is a North American exclusive presented by the France-Québec, 4 siècles de fraternité committee with the support of France’s National Assembly, the International Organization of La Francophonie, and Club d’entreprises franco-québécois.
In a news report released during the announcement of the exhibition, Musée de la civilisation Director General Claire Simard stated, “In its quest to present the human adventure, Musée de la civilisation has always been interested in foreign cultures and invited the public to explore other lifestyles, societies, ways of seeing and being, and entirely new realities in order to clarify one’s own uniqueness.” Simard also mentioned that “these exhibitions invite us to reconsider our North American and even Western concepts and to examine the diversity of cultures within the French-speaking world.”
According to the press release, the “Ideqqi. Art de femmes berbères” exhibition invites the public to enter the daily lives of Berber women from Kabylie (in northern Algeria) through 128 objects. Berber women make pottery objects—ideqqi in the Berber language—without a potter’s wheel or kiln. The pottery made by Berber women is hand crafted and baked in the open air. “The pure forms and simple, spontaneous designs lend these common objects a unique charm. They are a remarkable blend of function, form, and ornamentation.” This ornamentation is heavily inspired by traditional symbolism and is also found in weaving, jewelry, and tattoos.
The press release goes on to say that, like their pottery, Berber women adorn themselves with these symbolic images, as can be seen in oversized photos along the exhibition route. Their dark, proud gazes were captured by French photographer Marc Garanger during his military service in Algeria in the 1960s.
The “Objets blessés. La réparation en Afrique” exhibition invites us to explore one of the most common activities in Africa—repairing. In describing this exhibition, the news release states that, “while rarely included in Western collections, repaired objects open a window onto the struggle against the passing of time, the true duration of an object’s useful life, and the African concept of time. This meeting with African repairers dealing with “injured objects” takes us to the immense African continent with its expanses, horizons, heat, sun, and sand.”
The exhibition presents 110 objects that have been re-sewn, plugged, and bound together “not to restore them, but to re-establish a lost balance and let them begin a new life while continuing their intended use. Repairs must be visible because they are an integral part of each recreated object. This way, we acknowledge the full importance placed on an object by an individual or by society.”
Two short films mark the beginning and the end of the exhibition, and African rhythms accompany visitors throughout.
To learn more about this exhibition, please read the Québec government press release. You can also get more information by visiting the section dedicated to this exhibition on the website listing France’s contributions to Québec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
The Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity has announced that the 7th Nueva Mirada International Film Festival for Children and Youth will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from September 4 to 10, 2008. A call for entries has been launched. Applicants are welcome to submit their films, videos, and television programs for pre-selection.
Organized by the Nueva Mirada Association with the support of well-known organizations, institutions, and private sponsors, the Festival aims to raise awareness about the necessity for increasing the quality and quantity of audiovisual production geared towards young audiences. It also promotes the diffusion and exchange of audiovisual arts that incorporate cultural diversity in children and youth education.
According to Global Alliance, the Festival program will include an official competition as well as Parallel Screens. Numerous activities such as workshops, forums, and debates aimed at raising awareness among school students, teachers, professionals, and the general public will also be organized. Indeed, one of the main objectives of this annual event is to create critical viewers and audiences aware of cultural diversity issues.
For more information as well as official rules and application forms, visit the Nueva Mirada website.
The theme of the 2008 edition of the European Audiovisual Observatory afternoon workshop in Cannes was “VoD – which licenses for which markets?” On Sunday, May 18, over 300 film professionals crowded into the Palais des festivals to hear the Observatory’s latest information on the legal and market aspects of the VoD sector. Those of you who missed the workshop can now view the film of the workshop online on the Observatory website.