Vol. 9, no 15, Monday, April 27, 2009
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 Intergovernmental Committee has held two regular meeting to date: one in Ottawa, Canada from December 10 to 13, 2007, and the other in Paris, France from December 8 to 12, 2008. In addition to these meetings, two special sessions have been held in Paris, from June 24 to 27, 2008, and from March 23 to 25, 2009. The second Conference of the Parties will be held June 15–18 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
At press time, 98 Parties (97 states and the European Community as a regional economic integration organization) had ratified the treaty. 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.
UNESCO and Italy recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the organization of the first UNESCO Forum of Cultural Industries, to be held in the City of Monza (Italy) in September.
According to the UNESCO website, “The ultimate goal is to strengthen, in all countries, the capacity of cultural industries to produce and distribute goods and services and to help them gain access to national and international markets.
“The UNESCO Forum aims to provide a platform for discussion and exchange on a specific segment of cultural industries, which are playing an increasingly important role in economic growth and development.
“Some analysts estimate that the sector is growing at an annual rate of 10 percent, strengthening its position in the global economy as a strategic outlet for production, exports and job creation, and changing the balance of power in terms of cultural industries worldwide.
“The first edition of the Forum will focus on fostering innovation and excellence in the craft and luxury industry. Corporations in the field along with small and medium-sized cultural enterprises, decision-makers at the ministerial, regional, and municipal levels, culture professionals and creators, as well as development banks, will reflect on the role of cultural industries as a source of innovation, a dynamic force for society, and, above all, as a powerful economic engine.
“The event will bring together some 250 international experts in plenary sessions and thematic workshops to discuss the environment sustaining cultural production and the importance of sustained investment in innovation and culture. The question of how to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships will be at the core of the discussions. There is growing recognition that private sector support is most effective when channelled through multi-stakeholder partnerships, rather than established on a simple public-private basis. This broad-based approach is important to ensure that private sector contributions are more than a collection of fragmented interventions, and instead provide coherent and sustained support to national cultural industries.”
On its website, UNESCO has published an interview with Nicholas Bailly, founder of touscoprod.com, a company that makes it possible for Internet users to co-produce films that have insufficient financing.
The website (touscoprod.com) offers Internet users the opportunity to become co-producers of films, starting with an investment of as little as €10. The films may be features, shorts, animation films, or documentaries.
“With just a click,” states Bailly, “it is possible to pay online and thus become a ‘co-producer’ of a film. In this way, the co-producer has access to a range of services and will receive a part of the profits of exhibition. These services are created according to the level of progress of every project: they may include a private forum, online discussions with the film team, as well priority in becoming an extra and invitations to participate in the filming or attend previews. In exchange for providing the sums raised from the Internet users, touscoprod negotiates profit rights with the producers of the films. Where relevant, the company pays 80% of the rights received to the co-producers.
“Our company’s objective is to raise supplementary funds for films whose budget are not completely covered. It is also a way of creating communities that will promote films by word of mouth.
“After only two months of existence, we now offer around fifteen films—including one feature—which have already raised nearly 30% of the €62,500 required, thanks to nearly 400 co-producers. These figures are very encouraging, all the more so as we have not yet launched any communication to make people aware of the site, apart from press coverage.
“We are currently negotiating to put a further dozen or so projects online (French and European features and documentaries). Our first film should be released in September 2009.”
The touscoprod.com founder views the UNESCO Convention as very ambitious. “Such a project must obviously be concrete in its action. The confrontation between economic realities and cultures must be a driving force for creativity. It is certain that new technologies will have an increasingly important role in UNESCO’s action for the protection of cultural diversity, as long as the local characteristics of every project and culture are respected, without trying to make them fit a universal mould and as long as the general public is involved, and not just in financial aspects. Everyone must be able to protect diversity in their own special way.”
In the April 2009 edition of its newsletter, the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa states that the Euro-African Campus for Cultural Cooperation will be held in Maputo, Mozambique, June 22–26, 2009. It is an initiative of the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA) and the Interarts Foundation, held in partnership with the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and in cooperation with the City of Maputo and the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Mozambique. Other sponsors include Africalia and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
The main aim of the Campus is to provide a meeting, training, and exchange point for cultural agents in Africa and Europe to reflect, transfer knowledge, share experiences, and discuss possible joint initiatives in the field of cultural cooperation, in the broader context of the contribution of culture to sustainable development. The registration period is now open.
We announce the publication of a study entitled Cultural Expressions Under Threat in the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, by Professor Ivan Bernier.
Following a brief examination of the provisions of the Preliminary Draft Convention that served as a starting point for the government experts’ negotiation on cultural expressions under threat, Professor Bernier discusses Convention provisions that refer explicitly to this issue and looks at the draft operational guidelines adopted in June 2008 by the Intergovernmental Committee that will be submitted for the approval of the Conference of Parties in June 2009.
In the conclusion, the author states, “The significance of Convention provisions concerning cultural expressions under threat must not be underestimated. In the debates surrounding their adoption, it was clear that for many countries, particularly developing ones, this is a problem that must be taken very seriously.”
The 20th anniversary of the Observatory of Cultural Policy is an opportunity to examine changes in local culture and cultural policy. As part of the event, the Observatory will hold a series of meetings with a number of partners across France and Europe on the theme “Vers un nouveau contrat pour les politiques culturelles territoriales?” (Towards a new contract for territorial cultural policies). These meetings will bring together geographic territorial communities, government services, European and global networks, cultural agents, professional organizations, universities and research laboratories, and federations of elected officials.
According to the Observatory website, “In many ways, culture is playing an increasingly important role in people’s daily lives. Artistic and cultural practices are undergoing marked change. Art is constantly breaking new ground thanks to new disciplines and new visual forms. Cultural and artistic activities now hold a fundamental place in economic and social life in terms of wealth and job creation. Culture is expanding the horizons of geographic territories and the people who inhabit them, building bridges between communities, Europe, and the world.
How do these phenomena affect sustainable cultural development? How do they encourage individual development, cohabitation, cultural diversity, and intercultural dialogue? What are the current issues surrounding increased accessibility to art and culture? How should the challenges of cultural change be faced? What are the rules for redefining cultural policies of states and geographic territorial communities? What are the responsibilities of cultural agents and civil society in this debate? On what basis can we foresee the next step in the decentralization of cultural business in France?”
In order to invigorate the dialogue on cultural policies and provide answers to these questions, a 12-stop tour of France and Europe (Grenoble, Vilnius, Barcelona, Avignon, Annecy, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Caen, Rennes, Brussels, and Pantin/Paris) will take place from May to December, 2009.
For more information on the content of this event, please visit the Observatory of Cultural Policy website.
The April edition of the Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle newsletter has announced the creation of a new Fonds français for African cinema.
According to the newsletter, “As part of FESPACO (the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou), French Minister of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie Alain Joyandet has announced the creation of FICAF (Fonds d’investissement pour le cinéma d’Afrique francophone), an investment fund for cinema from French-speaking Africa.
“Backed by Agence française de Développement’s ARIZ guarantee fund, FICAF will invest an annual sum of €2 million for 5 years, for a total of €10 million. This will allow for the creation of a catalog of fifteen films. The goal is to revitalize the production of high quality African films (with a budget of €7.5 million or €0.5 million per film) and promote their distribution in France (with a budget of €2.5 million). The fund will also help fund the writing of screenplays and training in scriptwriting and film production. It will be structured around public and private capital and, inspired by the successful Soficas management system, FICAF will be managed by a non-specialized firm. Unlike previous initiatives based exclusively on subsidies and not directly involving the film industry chain, FICAF will make it possible to produce medium-budget films under professional conditions, strike a balance between the need to make a profit and development objectives, and sign profitable purchasing agreements with French television as well as agreements to screen films in French theaters.”
On Saturday, April 25, 120 finalists from some 30 countries in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia met at the Québec National Assembly to take part in the finals of the 16th edition of Dictée des Amériques.
Dictée des Amériques is the world’s top international French-language spelling bee. Since its creation, over 850,000 people from five continents have taken part in its qualification rounds.
Finalists were previously been selected from among 41,087 students from 189 secondary schools in Québec and 840 participants from the general public in 28 Québec cities. Qualification rounds were also held in many other countries.
The event, which helps promote the French language, was created by Télé-Québec educational and cultural television in 1994. Singer/songwriter/composer Ariane Moffat wrote and read the text used for the 16th edition of the event.