Vol. 9, no 32, Monday, October 26, 2009
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into force on March 18, 2007. At the first session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention in June 2007, the Intergovernmental Committee was given a mandate to develop the necessary operational directives for implementing the Convention. The Committee has met four times over the past two years. The third ordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee will be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from December 7 to 11, 2009.
The second session of the Conference of Parties, which took place in Paris on June 15 and 16, 2009, saw the adoption of operational directives concerning nine articles of the Convention. The Intergovernmental Committee was mandated to continue developing operational directives.
At press time, 104 Parties (103 states and the European Community as a regional economic integration organization) had ratified the treaty. On October 9 the Netherlands submitted its instrument of accession to UNESCO. It is now one of the States Parties 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 October 22, the international community paid tribute to UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura in a moving ceremony that featured performers from all around the world.
The ceremony was held as part of the 35th session of the UNESCO General Conference. Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade and France’s minister of culture and communication, Frédéric Mitterrand, were among the many people invited to speak.
Abdoulaye Wade praised “Mr. Matsuura’s work to safeguard the cultural heritage of humanity, notably through the adoption of three standard-setting instruments: the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity; the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,” UNESCO reports on its website.
For his part, Frédéric Mitterrand, the minister of culture and communication for France—UNESCO’s host country—paid tribute to the director general “for adopting new standard-setting instruments in the field of culture, notably the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions ... an instrument of international solidarity that can help cultural policies really take off in developing countries.”
“On October 15, the General Conference elected Irina Bokova (Bulgaria) as UNESCO director general to replace Mr. Matsuura. Designated by the Executive Board on September 22, Ms. Bokova is the first woman and the first representative of Eastern Europe to be named to the post,” reads a UNESCO press release.
At her nomination ceremony on October 23, Irina Bokova declared, “Cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue contribute to the emergence of a new humanism that reconciles the global and the local, and teaches us anew how to build the world. ... For me, humanism means aspiring to peace, democracy, justice, and human rights. For me, humanism means aspiring to tolerance, knowledge, and cultural diversity. It is rooted in ethics and in social and economic responsibility. It comes into its own by extending assistance to the most vulnerable. It is at the heart of the commitment to struggle to face our greatest common challenges, particularly respect for the environment.”
The 35th session of the UNESCO General Conference, which brought together representatives from 193 Member States, set out two priorities for culture:
On October 7 Fadila Laanan, a minister representing Belgium at the 35th session of the UNESCO General Conference, gave an address on the diversity of cultural expressions:
“Eight years ago, when the world was coming to terms with the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the UNESCO General Conference adopted a universal declaration on cultural diversity. Adapted into a convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions in 2005, the principle of cultural diversity is a response to numerous forms of intolerance men and women all around the world may be exposed to. ...
“The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions of October 20, 2005, must also inspire us to do more with regard to ‘cultural’ development. In both the northern and southern hemispheres, cultural industries are involved in the development of human societies. This is why the French Community of Belgium has contributed to the new Cultural Diversity Fund for a number of years. It will pursue dialogue with the Secretariat to enable new projects to be implemented, particularly for Africa.”
Fadila Laanan is the French Community of Belgium’s minister for culture, audiovisuals, health, and equal opportunities. Her address was a joint effort between the federal state and the Communities as part of an alternating agreement between them to represent Belgium at UNESCO.
Artistic and cultural projects will be funded in order to support Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture. The call for proposals is underway and will run until December 2, 2009. To find out how to apply, please visit the European Commission website.
La diversité culturelle, plus qu’un slogan, a report, was published on October 16 in Bern by the Swiss Commission for UNESCO and the Swiss Coalition for Cultural Diversity. The press release for the occasion notes:
“In La diversité culturelle, plus qu’un slogan, a report, some sixty specialists recommend greater awareness of cultural life in our country and better positioning for culture in Switzerland’s general policies. The report comes one year to the day after Switzerland’s full accession to the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which affirms that culture is not a commodity.
“On October 16, 2008, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into effect in our country. Switzerland joined the 100-plus states to have ratified the international agreement adopted by UNESCO in 2005.
“In order to ensure that cultural diversity was much more than simply an empty slogan in our country, the Swiss Commission for UNESCO and the Swiss Coalition for Cultural Diversity invited some sixty actors from civil society to take stock and make proposals for the future. Their findings and recommendations are brought together in the report.
“The report covers eight areas: music, cinema, the visual arts and heritage protection, literature, theater and dance, education, the media, and international cooperation. It notes that Switzerland still boasts a varied cultural scene. However, changes to society and globalization-related technology advances are requiring a shift toward a single cultural policy that is structured and anchored in the Confederation, on the one hand and, on the other, greater awareness of cultural diversity in our country’s general policies.
“The country’s citizens and political circles must become more aware of culture’s role in our society in order to foresee and stave off any depletion of cultural diversity. ‘Investing in the riches of cultural life means helping reinforce social coherence, which is at the heart of society’s problems today,’ believes Daniel Fueter, rapporteur general and author of the report’s preface.”
The report is available in French and German, while the eight sectoral reports are available in French, German, and Italian on the Swiss Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.
UNESCO reports on its website that “this World Report aims to become a reference tool for cultural diversity. Cultural diversity, which is too often reduced to the protection of endangered heritage, is also the development of intercultural skills, the search for an antidote to expressions of cultural isolationism, the road towards new forms of governance, the lever of the effective exercise of universally recognized human rights and a means to reduce imbalances in the world trade in creative products.”
“Media and cultural industries represent more than 7% of global GDP and represent approximately US$1.3 trillion, i.e., approximately twice the level of receipts from international tourism, estimated at US$680 billion. Africa’s share in the global trade in creative products remains marginal—less than 1% of worldwide exports—despite its abundance of creative talent. In order to improve this situation, it is urgent to invest in cultural diversity and dialogue, the report insists. ...
“This is clearly the meaning of the ten recommendations drawn by the report about ways to invest in cultural diversity. The report especially suggests creating a ‘World Observatory on Cultural Diversity, to monitor the impacts of globalization,’ setting up a ‘national mechanism for monitoring public policies as they relate to cultural diversity,’ and implementing ‘national language policies with a view to both safeguarding linguistic diversity and promoting multilingual competencies.’”
Among the key figures mentioned in the report, UNESCO notes that “there are many imbalances in the global trade of creative products: Africa’s share remains marginal (at less than 1% of exports), despite its abundance of creative talent.”
“Developing countries’ exports of cultural and media equipment increased rapidly between 1996 and 2005, growing from US$51 billion to US$274 billion, which showed the emergence of so-called ‘counter-flows,’ which are countering the extreme concentration of media ownership.”
The report is available in full from the UNESCO website. Summaries are available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese.
Since the 1970s, the Pratiques culturelles investigation by France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication has been the benchmark for French behavior in the field of culture and media. The ministry notes on its website:
“More than ten years after the findings of 1997, 2008 findings reveal the effects of a decade of change due to the rise in digital culture and the Internet. The work by Olivier Donnat, a sociologist at the Studies, Forecasting, and Statistical Branch (DEPS) of France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, presented on October 14 therefore casts new light on cultural practices in France in the digital age.
“The investigation measures the influence of this new way to access culture over consumption of old media (television, radio, the press) and traditional cultural practices. How are reading books, listening to music, and practicing amateur artistic activities faring? Are more or fewer people going to cinemas, theaters, or concert halls and have their profiles changed? ...
“Les pratiques culturelles des Français à l’ère numérique delivers results by sector for television, music, books and the press, cultural outings and visits, as well as amateur activities. The study consistently highlights continuity and breaks within a digital culture that is very present in the everyday lives of younger generations.”
The 2008 investigation drew on a sample of 5,000 individuals who were representative of teenagers age 15 years and older living in metropolitan France. The document is for sale in bookstores.
The 2009 edition of Statistiques principales de la culture et des communications au Québec (Principal Statistics on Culture and Communications in Québec) paints a statistical portrait of the main activities in most fields of cultural activity in Québec, and of cultural spending and culture occupations. Regular readers of the publication will find the usual tables, updated and, in some cases, more detailed. According to the press release introducing the publication:
“This edition contains data on trends in the sales of sound recordings (albums, digital titles, music DVDs, etc.) in Québec between 2005 and 2008. Sales of digital albums purchased on the Internet accounted for 0.5% of album sales in 2005 and for 4.2% in 2008. In addition, during the same period, annual sales of digital titles purchased on the Internet saw an unquestionable increase, going from 708,200 to 4,108,200 titles.
“Among the other data updated were statistics on performing arts, libraries, books, radio and TV stations, attendance of museum institutions, and government spending on culture. The publication also includes the top exhibitions of the large national museums, music albums, books, and films.”
The document is published by Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec (OCCQ) and Institut de la statistique du Québec. It may be consulted on the OCCQ website.
The European Commission notes that over 900 visitors made their way to Flagey from September 28 to 30 to take part in three days of presentations on projects funded by Culture 2000 and the 2007–2013 Culture Program. They also attended the inaugural European Prize for Literature award ceremony, which honors European literary excellence and spurs implementation of the European Cultural Agenda at the European Culture Forum.
The E.C. invites us to experience the events for ourselves through presentations and film and photo materials.
Visitors to the European Commission website can access projects presented at the September 28 Culture in Motion Conference in Brussels. It features stories from 33 European countries that show how culture is making a genuine impact in people’s lives.
The descriptions are the result of work by individuals from over 1,333 organizations across all of Europe taking part in projects involving art, music, and song; drama and theater; cultural heritage and preservation; literature and reading; and architecture and design.
To find out more, visit the European Commission website.
Québec’s minister of culture, communications and the status of women, Christine St-Pierre, has announced the launch of a call for projects aimed at Québec presenters to host foreign shows in 2009 and 2010. The program has a $125,000 budget.
“The call for projects announced today will enable Québec to host shows by foreign artists in a number of cultural disciplines. This openness to the world will give presenters the opportunity to offer diversified programming favoring innovation, experimentation, and renewed creation,” said Minister St-Pierre.
“Thanks to this funding, multidisciplinary broadcasters in Québec will be able to offer more theater, dance, and musical shows, thereby helping to foster greater reciprocity in cultural exchanges with international partners.”
“The Aide aux projets – Accueil de spectacles étrangers program has supported performances from France, Belgium, Italy, Congo, Côte-d’Ivoire, and Cape Verde since 2006–2007, for a total of 200 shows throughout Québec,” reads the press release.