Vol. 11, no 4, Monday, February 21, 2011
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the 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. Since then, four ordinary and two extraordinary sessions have been held, for a total of six.
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, 116 Parties (115 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.
Speaking to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on January 31, the minister of international trade, Mr. Peter Van Loan, reaffirmed the Canadian government’s intention to seek a general exemption for cultural industries in Canada-European Union comprehensive economic trade agreement (CETA) negotiations. The minister drew parallels with Canada’s commitment to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and his position in favor of a cultural exemption in trade agreements. He then answered a number of questions. Two themes in particular emerged from the ensuing discussions: the cultural exemption sought after by Canada in CETA negotiations and the European Union’s position demanding that the publishing industry be opened up. The following are excerpts from the Minister Van Loan’s remarks. We invite you to consult the complete transcript now available online.
« […]We've also been a global leader in developing and implementing policies and conventions of the United Nations, including the United Nations Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. As you know, the convention recognizes the importance of cultural diversity issues to international social and economic development. It gives countries like Canada the right to adopt policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.»
« I can assure the members of this committee, and all Canadians, that any trade agreement we conclude with the European Union will preserve our respective abilities to pursue domestic cultural policy objectives. Our government remains squarely committed to defending our cultural interests—including in all our trade agreements. » […]
« In substance we're seeking full exemption. I don't think that's on the table. Everything is on the table, in theory, because it's a broad negotiation, but we are seeking the full cultural exemption, and we're quite confident we will obtain full protection for Canadian cultural industries. » […]
« The one area they are raising is the issue of the support we provide for the publishing industry through various programs. Their concerns there would be either that they have access to the same kind of support or that we not be able to provide that support for publishing industries. The position we are taking in the negotiations is that we wish to be able to continue those programs and have them covered by an exemption so that we can support our publishing industry and Canadian culture in that fashion. » […]
« […],there's only one narrow issue on which the EU is making a substantive ask on culture, and that is the issue of subsidies or programs to support publishing. » […]
« We are obviously of the view, from the position we take, that something that would compromise those programs or end them would have an adverse impact on our publishing industry. That's why we take the position that we wish to maintain the programs and are holding that position in the negotiations. […] ».
As well, on February 7, 2011, the executive director of the Coalition for Cultural Diversity and the general secretary of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, Mr. Charles Vallerand, appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to discuss culture in CETA Canada - EU negotiations. Mr. Vallerand began by linking the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to the negotiations to Canada-EU negotiations in the following terms:
« Our specific focus today is to ensure the UNESCO Convention be given its full legal and political weight with regard to other international mechanisms. The original idea behind the Convention was to develop a completely fresh legal mechanism to offset and frame the specific and special situation of culture, which is a commodity or a service with a recognized commercial value but also, and more importantly, a cultural value. What is required now is to develop the legal value and the jurisprudence. These trade negotiations are so important because the Canadian Government has, right from the outset, clearly focused on developing an extensive, broad modern trading relationship with a significant economic partner. […] ».
« We are following the talks with great interest because it would be unfortunate to see the gains made through the Convention negotiated away or weakened by a potential free-trade agreement. »
He also emphasized in his introduction that the status of culture in these negotiations had yet to be agreed on:
« Unfortunately, it is clear that the talks are continuing and have now reached a critical point in the negotiation of issues yet to be resolved. Culture remains on the table. Obviously, reaching an agreement on a cultural exemption with the European Union is not as easy as might have been imagined. […] ».
« […] We are aware of the challenges. We realize that the European Union and its negotiators have a different view of the cultural exemption and therefore, have to ask questions to understand our position and how it would apply across the agreement. The Europeans are asking some surprising questions given that the European Union and 26 of its 27 member states have ratified the UNESCO Convention. They are committed to diversity of expressions. Why are they asking these questions about the cultural exemption when Canada’s practice and approach have been well known for the past 20 years? They have requested clarification. Let’s hope that Canada is able to provide sufficiently reassuring clarification to coax the Europeans into signing an agreement. We have offered our co-operation and expertise in providing comprehensive answers to issues raised by our European counterparts.
We believe that just because the European Union is asking questions, does not mean that we should change our position or rush into an agreement just for the sake of it. Quite the opposite in fact. Canada has shown great leadership and must continue to do so. »
We invite you to consult the complete transcript now available online.
The board of directors of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) has approved the request submitted by the Swedish Joint Committee for Artistic and Literary Professionals (Konstnärliga och Litterära Yrkesutövares Samarbetsnämnd or KLYS) to become a member of the Federation. The IFCCD communiqué reads as follows:
“This marks an important development for the civil society movement in the Scandinavian countries, which has played and continues to play an important role in favor of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, especially in the area of North-South cooperation.”
KLYS is a federation founded in 1959 to represent national Swedish organizations in the cultural area. It thrives to find a common platform for the contributions of its 16 members in the area of cultural policy and other legislative development of concern to artists and creators.
The IFCCD brings together 43 national coalitions comprised of over 600 organizations.
The president of the National Assembly of Québec and chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF), Yvon Vallières, recently bestowed the Ordre de la Pléiade on four individuals. The ceremony took place in the presence of participants attending the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CIDEC 2011).
La Pléiade, an order of la Francophonie dedicated to fostering cultural dialogue, seeks to recognize the efforts of individuals who have shown outstanding dedication to APF ideals, particularly in the areas of cooperation, solidarity, and democracy. The following individuals were honored:
His Excellency Mr. Abdou Diouf, secretary general of La Francophonie, received the rank of Grand Croix. He served in a variety of national functions in Sénégal beginning in the 1960s, following his graduation from La Sorbonne with degrees in public law and political science. He was prime minister from 1970 until 1980 and became president in 1981, succeeding Léopold Sédar Senghor. He has been secretary general of La Francophonie since 2003.
Writer Dany Laferrière was awarded the rank of commander. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved to Québec in the 1970s. Alongside his literary work, he has also pursued a career as a journalist and commentator. He has received a number of literary awards, including four for his most recent novel, L’énigme du retour, including the Prix Médicis.
Multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage also received the rank of commander. Born in Québec City, he is known as a playwright, stage director, actor, and filmmaker. With his company, Ex Machina, he produced in 2008 the largest architectural projection in history, Le Moulin à images. He has also been internationally recognized for his work in opera since 1993. His work has been honored with over a hundred prizes and distinctions.
Professor Ivan Bernier was made an officer of the Ordre de la Pléiade. He received his doctorate from the London School of Economics and has spent most of his career at Université Laval (Québec, Canada). He is now a Laval professor emeritus specializing in international economic law, in which he is considered a leading authority, and has received numerous awards. He has released six full-length books and more than 50 publications, some jointly with other academics. Between 2002 and 2009, he published a series of studies on the diversity of cultural expressions. These studies can be accessed on the Government Secretariat for Cultural Diversity website.
The founder of Cirque du Soleil, M. Guy Laliberté, was also to be received into the Ordre de La Pléiade but was unable to attend. He will be honored at a future date.
The Department of Canadian Heritage is inviting Canadians, federal partners, provincial and territorial governments, industry associations, and stakeholders interested in audiovisual treaty coproduction to express their views on the implementation of Canada?s Policy on Audiovisual Treaty Coproduction.
The consultation period will end on March 17, 2011. The discussion forum will continue for another week until March 24, 2011.
The European Cultural Foundation is looking for projects which will bring a renewed understanding of Europe to people of all backgrounds, and inspires them to regard the world’s future as a shared enterprise. Collaboration Grants fund transnational, cross-sectoral activities by independent cultural and artistic organisations working together or with organisations from other sectors. The main applicant needs to be a cultural organisation based in Europe, while partner applicants can work in sectors outside the cultural field, in Europe. Particular attention will be paid to projects with efforts that are daring, different and challenge the status quo. The average award funded is €15,000 with the maximum being €30,000. Grants are given twice a year and the next deadline for applications will be March 1, 2011.
For more information on applying for grants, please see the European Cultural Foundation website.
A call for applications from artists wishing to take part in the 9th Edition of the African Photography Biennal will be open until March 15, 2011. The Biennial will take place November 5 to December 5, 2011, in Bamako, Mali, under the theme For a sustainable world.
Since 1994, the Bamako Encounters, co-organized and co-produced by Mali’s Ministry of Culture and l’Institut français, have been held every two years in Bamako and are recognized as the leading cultural event of international scope focusing on issues in contemporary photography and video in Africa.
For full details on this call for applications, please see the Encounters of Bamako website.
On January 31, the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie held a debate on the obstacles to development of cultural policies and programs, in preparation for the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CIDEC 2011). Discussions were based on written contributions from 12 APF sections: Burundi, Chad, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Sénégal, Georgia, the Canton of Valais, Communauté française de Belgique, Romania, Canada, and Québec. The texts are available on the APF website, in the CECAC news section.
The February 7 issue of the Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle newsletter looks at the following topics of interest:
Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle is produced by Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation for the International Organization of La Francophonie.
The newsletter Culture Action Europe has published its first campaign newsletter of 2011. The editorial team notes that the We Are More manifesto will be launched online in more than fifteen languages.
“This campaign is happening now because it is time that National governments and EU policymakers make the decisions on the next EU budget that will define the next ten years of EU support to cultural activities.”
This issue contains news from the We Are More campaign and addresses the following topics:
The newsletter is available in English and French.
The February issue of CapsulesMonde deals with the following questions on globalization and culture:
Cultural and creative industries
CapsulesMonde is published by LEPPM (Laboratoire d'étude sur les politiques publiques et la mondialisation).
The following announcement appears on the Culturelink Network website under Networking News and Announcements:
“In order to set up a meeting point between cultural agents working in Latin America, several professionals, organisations and academic institutions from this sector have launched the Latin-American Network on Cultural Management (RedLGC). Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile are the founding countries of this network that has been created with the aim to develop collective action in order to generate and disseminate knowledge in the field of cultural management and cultural policies, in a constant dialogue with managers, associations and institutions around the world.”
For more information, we invite you to consult the RedLGC website.
A seminar on cultural policy will be taking place in Riga, Latvia, on February 23. Discussed will be the role of administrative territories in the cultural field. The seminar is a joint project of Ministère de la Culture, the 2014 office of Riga City Hall, the French Embassy in Latvia, and the French Cultural Center–Riga, and is intended for elected officials and heads of cultural institutions, NGO members, cultural stakeholders, and artists.
For more information, see the website of the French embassy in Latvia.
The 22nd edition of the Pan-African Film & TV Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) will take place from February 26 to March 5, 2011 with “African Cinema and Markets” as edition theme. The following is from the press file:
«Technological changes that have occurred in the post-production sector, in particular in film and audiovisual production, contributed some years ago to a larger offer and a diversification of production modes in Africa. However, this diversified offer in the area of image is in contrast with the gradual closing of theatre rooms as collective venues for film consumption, exacerbating the absence of the African film on its own market. The share of African films out of the continent's entire film market accounts only for 3% while that of American films is 70 % […].
There is no doubt that the festival's main highlights its official competition. For film directors, African in particular, flocking down to Ouagadougou from everywhere to Ouagadougou, each and every edition remains challenging».
To find out more about this event featuring some 190 works, we invite you to consult the FESPACO website.