Vol. 11, no 16, Monday, October 3, 2011
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 guidelines for implementing the Convention. Since then, four ordinary and two extraordinary sessions have been held, for a total of six.
The third session of the Conference of Parties, which took place in Paris on June 14 and 15, 2011, saw the approbation of operational guidelines concerning three articles of the Convention and measures to ensure the visibility and promotion of the Convention. In total, twelve articles of the Convention now incorporate operational guidelines.
At press time, 118 Parties (117 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.
On July 26, 2011, German Eurodeputies Ms. Helga Trüpel and Ms. Petra Kammerevert used the parliamentary mechanism of written questions to ask European trade commissioner, Mr. Karel De Gucht, about the trade negotiations currently underway towards the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Their questions addressed the way the cultural sector will be handled in this agreement and, in a broader sense, reconciliation of the cultural policy of the European Commission and its cultural commitments under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
In a statement made on September 13, 2011, the European trade commissioner replied to the concerns of both parliamentarians, specifically addressing the issue of the diversity of cultural expressions as follows:
“Cultural diversity is a matter which is important both for the EU and Canada. Both Parties consider that it is important to promote cultural diversity, while at the same time ensuring that the EU-Canada CETA is an ambitious agreement, providing for a deep level of economic integration.”
In response to a question from Trüpel regarding whether there were differences of opinion between the EU and Canada over certain cultural services and their classification, Mr. De Gucht explained that “at the current stage of the negotiations with Canada, the Commission is not in a position to state whether there are different views relating to cultural services and their classification.”
According to the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity, Mr. De Gucht’s answer “does not clarify whether or not Europe will accept the complete exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services (usually referred to as a general cultural exemption), which Canada normally seeks in its bilateral agreements.”
Prof. Ivan Bernier is considered to be one of the fathers of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. He has written numerous papers on the Convention’s implementation and relationship to international trade instruments.
Although recently retired, he agreed to share his thoughts with the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity on the text that was adopted in June 2011 regarding the Article 21 resolution.
As a reminder, the resolution reads in part “[…] the Conference of Parties, in the context of the implementation of Section V of the Convention on the relationship to other instruments, requests the Secretariat to present, in relation to Article 21, a compendium of cases wherein the Convention is invoked or utilized in other international fora for examination by the Committee at each ordinary session” (Resolution 3.CP 11, paragraph 5).
Among other things, Mr. Bernier said that he was pleased with this resolution:
“The exercise that is about to be undertaken is likely to produce better results than an early attempt to develop operational directives. The need to agree on directives might have yielded disappointing results given the possibility that, as a result of avoiding stormy debates on a number of issues, such directives might have ended up being too broad and evasive to produce concrete results or initiate a true dialogue on those important issues. As the Parties will now be free to put forward what they consider to be their own good practices, they will definitely be less reluctant to expose their views.”
Prof. Ivan Bernier also mentioned the possibilities that are being offered to the Parties and civil society with this exercise, including the following:
“A Party that would claim as one of its good practices the preservation of its ability to develop and implement its own cultural policy during trade negotiations will feel free to identify this as a good practice without fearing that it might be perceived as a universal practice being imposed on all other Parties. […] In that light, this exercise fills the basic purpose of operational directives, which is to foster the implementation of the Convention.”
“The granting of such reservations or exceptions to the signatory parties to the Convention that demand them as part of trade agreement negotiations is certainly a practice that should be recognized by all Parties as it is directly in line with the reciprocal rights that the Parties themselves have recognized at the time they ratified the Convention.”
“This exercise must go beyond exchanges between Parties. The civil society must also have an opportunity to express its views. For a start, the Coalitions must state their own views, either in written documents or verbally as part of Intergovernmental Committee sessions.”
To read the entire text of the interview, please consult the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.
On September 29, 2011, Québec Minister of Culture, Communications and of the Status of Women Christine St-Pierre announced the implementation of a new international coproduction assistance measure from CALQ (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec) for artistic and literary organizations in Québec.
“This measure will give [Québec organizations] financial leverage that will spur investment in coproductions outside Québec, as CALQ will award grants matching coproducers’ investments,” declared St-Pierre.
The terms of this measure have been adapted to the needs of two major artist groups: Mesure d'aide à la coproduction en arts de la scène et en arts multidisciplinaires is aimed at organizations creating and producing theater, dance, music, the circus arts, or multidisciplinary arts wishing to develop an original Québec work in collaboration with one or more partners outside Québec. Mesure d'aide à la coproduction en arts médiatiques, en arts visuels, en littérature, en métiers d'art et en recherche architecturale is for organizations wishing to carry out an original production, performance, or exhibition in collaboration with one or more partners outside Québec.
While this is a national measure aimed at Québec organizations, it constitutes a good practice in international cooperation according to Article 12 of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, since it promotes international coproduction. This measure will in fact facilitate reciprocal exchanges between Québec, the rest of Canada, and foreign countries.
Full details are available on the CALQ website.
The October 3 issue of the Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle newsletter explores the following topics:
Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle is published in French by Centre d'études sur l'intégration et la mondialisation (CEIM) for the International Organization of La Francophonie.
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has published the second edition of the “Cultural Statistics” pocketbook introducing facts and figures on cultural participation, employment and the economic situation in the cultural sectors, external trade in cultural goods, and household expenditure on culture from the 27 EU member states, 4 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states, and candidate countries for EU membership.
Singapore’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts recently published Singapore Cultural Statistics 2011.
The aim of this publication is to provide an update on Singapore’s arts and cultural sector through the analysis of Singapore’s cultural statistics in recent years. The arts and cultural sector reviewed in this publication includes arts and cultural performances of various genres (e.g., dance, music, theater, and the literary arts), heritage activities, and the use of library resources.
To download this document, please visit the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) website.
The work entitled Cultural Policies in Australia offers a profile of arts and cultural polices across all spheres of Australian government. It charts the development of federal and state cultural agencies, policy relating to all art forms, public and commercial media, indigenous affairs, heritage, education, training, and economic policy.
Cultural Policies in Australia also addresses major policy initiatives implemented in the field of culture, including the 1994 “Creative Nation” Commonwealth cultural policy, and includes overviews of major inquiries such as the Parallel Importation of Books, the Major Performing Arts Inquiry, and the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry.
The Australian cultural policy profile will also become part of WorldCP, a central online database of country-specific profiles of cultural policies modeled on the highly regarded Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, which contains policy profiles of 41 European countries and Canada.
The work in question is available on the Australia Council for the Arts website.
The first Meeting of filmmakers from Africa, the Caribbean, and their diasporas was held in Havana, Cuba during the Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase on September 12–16, 2011.
Major films were screened, including Drum by South African director Zola Maseko, Ramata by Congo’s Leandre-Alain Baker, Bamako by French-Mauritian Abderrahmana Sissako, and Un homme qui crie by Chad’s Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. The audience included the Caribbean participants and members of the general Cuban public.
This meeting was a great opportunity to strengthen ties and filmmaking cooperation between these two regions. Participants were able to share information and expertise, and network with filmmakers from African institutions to develop sub-regional platforms coordinated with existing networks in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The meeting was also the first opportunity to launch the UNESCO project “Cameras of Diversity” (Cámaras de la Diversidad) throughout Africa. This project was previously carried out in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Cameras of Diversity” constitutes a best practice in terms of international cooperation from the point of view of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Since 2005, it has helped strengthen institutional and legal policies, the capacities of indigenous and afro-descended communities in the field of production, and the digital management and distribution of these productions.
Cultural Box is a virtual video library specialized in management and cultural policies designed by the Cultural Policy and Management Program of the University of Barcelona. Its aim is to make a large catalogue of online videos available to professionals working in culture.
Every month Cultural Box presents a selection of recommendations of videos on cultural management and policy from around the world. Selections currently include videos in English, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, and French. Cultural operators around the world are invited to send in their recommendations and links.
This resource is distributed free to professionals, students, and experts interested in the subject. It is an example of good practices in terms of information sharing, exchange, and expertise in the field of culture, as described in Article 12 (international cooperation) of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The call for applications for 2012 UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists is now open. For 2012, the program offers bursaries in the following fields: creative writing, music, and the visual arts.
The UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries Program was integrated into UNESCO's strategy in 1994 to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. It aims to provide experience to young artists and to help them complete their training in countries other than their own.
The program offers residencies to young artists aged 25 to 35 around the world. It advocates and promotes creativity and highlights cultural exchanges and the need for artists to enrich their experience through contact with other cultures. These residencies are catalysts for the development of artistic expression in all cultures of the world.
From the point of view of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, this program constitutes a best practice in terms of cooperation for development (Article 14), because it gives priority to artists and institutions in developing countries in order to enhance North-South and South-South cooperation.
For the call for applications (which varies according to the artist’s choice of institution of residency) and to obtain more information about the program, please visit the UNESCO website.
Registration is now open for the international Conference “Radius of Art” to be held in Berlin, Germany on February 8 and 9, 2012.
Organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the conference offers an international dialogue and exchange of ideas and experiences between key actors within the cultural, academic, and political sectors across Germany and the EU and around the world. This meeting therefore constitutes a best practice in international cooperation according to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Article 12), since it will help strengthen and expand existing structures and networks, initiate long-term partnerships between German and international organizations, and launch shared learning processes.
Themes such as participation in art in the public sphere, art for social transformation, and new alliances for aesthetics and sustainability will be on the agenda.
The conference will conclude with a discussion about the kinds of structural reforms required at the national level in regard to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, so that cultural development projects as well as controversial public art projects might receive the recognition they deserve within the sphere of international cooperation.
For more information about this event and to obtain an application form, please consult the Conference “Radius of Art” website.
The 2011 edition of the Joint Nordic Conference, entitled “The Future of Development Research: Exploring the Nordic Perspective(s)” will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark November 24 and 25.
A number of workshops will be held during this conference, including one focused on the theme of “Culture and development: the role and meaning of culturally sustainable development in development research and praxis.”
This workshop will invite participants to take part in a discussion of the following issues: definitions of culture and cultural sustainability in Nordic and international development and cultural policies, the role of international cultural policy and cultural/creative industries in the context of development, and cultural rights, diversity, and sustainable development.
For more information on this conference, visit the Association of Development Researchers in Denmark (FAU) website.