Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, together with Annika Markovic, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sweden to UNESCO, representing Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, launched on 14 December UNESCO’s new 2018 Global Report, Re| Shaping Cultural Policies.
This Report, published with the support of the Swedish Government, monitors how countries around the world are designing policies pursuant to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).
“Diversity remains a battle, in 2018 as in 2005. Culture is not a commodity: it carries values and identities, it gives markers to live together in a globalized world. Our role is to encourage, question, collect data, to understand and energize creative channels, to encourage the mobility of artists, to stimulate a rapidly changing sector in the new digital environment,” underlined Ms Azoulay, in opening a panel discussion with all assembled authors.
While acknowledging the increased integration of culture in national development plans and policies by governments around the world, especially the Global South, Ms Azoulay called for affirmative action to address a major funding gap in culture. “Despite the well-established importance of the creative economy as a driver of growth and employment, the share of development aid spent on culture is today at its lowest level in over a decade. In 2015, 0.22% of total Official Development Assistance (ODA) was spent on culture, in decrease of 45% compared to 2005”, she noted.
Ambassador Markovic welcomed the new Report, stating that it is “the only global document that presents an overview of cultural development world-wide and monitors state action to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions at all levels.”
Diversity remains a battle, in 2018 as in 2005. Culture is not a commodity: it carries values and identities, it gives markers to live together in a globalized world
Referring to some of the key messages in the Report – robust copyright systems as prerequisites for fair remuneration of authors and other rights holders, civil society participation in decision-making, support to women as artists and producers of cultural goods and services, Ambassador Markovic called for enhanced action on freedom of artistic expression. “Artistic voices are being silenced over the world. Censorship, imprisonment, threats or even killings are frequent. We need to cooperate internationally and join forces to strengthen and promote artistic freedom,” she urged.
The launch was followed by another panel with film producers and distributors on “Towards Support Policies for Independent Cinema?” to address the challenges facing the independent film sector in terms of funding and distribution in the new digital environment.
A related UNESCO event on 12 December entitled “Cultural and Creative Industries: A New Agenda for the Development Community?” brought together representatives from various development banks and agencies, and governmental partners, to discuss new strategies to grow investments in the creative sectors through development aid.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions worked further on these issues during its 11th session held at UNESCO Headquarters from 12 – 15 December. The Committee selected seven projects from developing countries to be beneficiaries the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD), which will boost implementation of the 2005 Convention. These diverse projects support cinema, theatre, public art and policies, and cultural entrepreneurship, and include important models of South-South cooperation.
Within the framework of the Committee’s session, the film Dede was screened at UNESCO Headquarters and included a discussion between the young Georgian Director of the film, Mariam Khatchvani, and the public. Dede is the winner of the Asia Pacific Screen Award 2017 Cultural Diversity Award, presented annually under the patronage of UNESCO.
2018 Crystal Award: Leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society
Actor Cate Blanchett, musician Elton John and actor Shah Rukh Khan are the recipients of the 24th Annual Crystal Award, the World Economic Forum announced today. The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on the evening of Monday, 22 January. The award celebrates the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society.
“We heartily congratulate the 24th Annual Crystal awardees. Their commitment to dignity and to the upholding of essential human values serves as an inspiration to us all, particularly in these trying times when compassion is needed more than ever,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum, which gives out the awards.
Cate Blanchett, for her leadership in raising awareness of the refugee crisis
Cate Blanchett is an internationally acclaimed award-winning actor and director of both stage and screen. Appointed a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2016, in recognition of her commitment to refugees, she has lent her voice and influence to raising awareness, advocating and fundraising for the UNHCR. Having met refugees in countries including Lebanon, Jordan and her home country, Australia, she advocates for increased solidarity and responsibility sharing for the 65 million-plus displaced people across the world. She has brought her creative skills to bear in sharpening focus on the individual human stories that lie behind the vast numbers. Blanchett said: “As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, my job is simple: to help connect people to the human stories of those forced to flee, and to state the case for all of us to stand with refugees.”
Sir Elton John, for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS
Sir Elton John is one of the world’s most successful musical solo artists of all time, whose career has spanned more than five decades. With thirty-five Gold and twenty-five Platinum albums, he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), which today is one of the leading non-profit HIV/AIDS organizations. EJAF has raised more than $400 million to date to support hundreds of HIV/AIDS prevention, service and advocacy programmes around the globe. In 1998, HM Queen Elizabeth knighted him Sir Elton John, Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music and charitable causes. Sir Elton John recently received the Harvard Foundation’s Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award. John said: “AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age, yet the medicine and know-how exists to prevent this. If we want to give the next generation a better future, we could solve this problem. What it takes is our collective passion and compassion.”
Shah Rukh Khan, for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India
Shah Rukh Khan is one of Bollywood’s most prominent actors who has been at the forefront of the Indian film and television industry for over 30 years. He is the founder of the non‐profit Meer Foundation, which provides support to female victims of acid attacks and major burn injuries through medical treatment, legal aid, vocational training, rehabilitation and livelihood support. He has also been responsible for the creation of specialized children’s hospital wards and has supported childcare centres with free boarding for children undergoing cancer treatment. Khan said: “With victims of acid attacks I have had the privilege to witness the unparalleled courage and compassion that women are capable of. I have seen the transformative strength of goodness and the healing power of gentleness.”
New Museum on Underwater Archaeology opens in Mexico
On December 5th 2017 the new Museum of Underwater Archaeology opened in the 18th century fortress of Reducto San Jose el Alto, in Campeche, Mexico.
The museum was designated by the 6th session of the Meeting of States Parties to the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage as a Best Practice of access to underwater cultural heritage. It has been considered one of the most important in underwater archaeology in the Latin America and Caribbean Region by Xavier Nieto Prieto, Vice-President of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body to the 2001 Convention (STAB) at the opening event, where Helena Barba and Michel L’Hour, also members of the STAB attended.
The Museum contains spectacular finds from Mexican cenotes and from historical shipwrecks as well as a collection that retraces all the Mexican history through the archaeological sites found under water. The Museum uses new technologies to reconstruct sites and is illustrated with different media platforms on the history of the discoveries.
Designed to preserve the underwater cultural heritage, the 2001 Convention seeks to promote public access to this heritage and to stimulate archaeological research. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology of Campeche is an example of how the submerged heritage can be shared with the society for its benefit and enjoyment.
The museum has also been evaluated as a Best Practice concerning Underwater Cultural Heritage by the STAB. The STAB is an Advisory Body compound of 12 experts elected by the Meeting of States Parties. It provides advice and assistance in technical matters in the national implementation of the 2001 Convention and in the observance of the Rules of its Annex in all activities directed at the underwater cultural heritage. The STAB recommended, during the 5th session of the Meeting of States Parties (2015), to promote examples of best practices worldwide. These initiatives include maritime heritage museums, scuba diving routes, virtual exhibitions, and other cultural activities.
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