UNESCO’s overview of 10 years promoting diversity

February 17, 2016, 12:15 pm

“New discourses and approaches are needed to guide cultural policy. These must be accompanied by commitments to institutional and structural change in all areas of governance and management of culture. […] This report is a contribution to this global effort.”

Irina Bokova

Director-General of UNESCO

Here is how starts the recently written UNESCO report on Re/Shaping Cultural Policies.  Following the full or partial implementation (by a total of 140 states) of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the document attempts 10 years later to assess its concrete impact on global cultural policies.

The analysis is divided into four main goals: (1) support for systems of governance for culture; (2) flow of cultural goods and mobility of artists and cultural professionals; (3) sustainable development; and (4) human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Even though improvements can be underlined for each of the 4 goals (notably the emergence of new mechanisms in support of creative sectors or the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), the implementation of the Convention has also revealed, according to the report, the difficult access for countries of the South to international markets, the undecreasing attacks on artistic expression around the world and the persistence of gender-related disparities in the cultural sphere.

Regarding the latter point, the report underpins, and refers back to, the conclusions of a former UNESCO publication “Gender Equality: Heritage and Creativity” (2014). This study already highlighted that while women were poorly represented within decision-making positions in cultural organizations (‘glass ceiling’), far more women than men suffered poor employment conditions (part-time, contractual work, informality…), often due to their unequal share of unpaid care work. Similar to other areas of socioeconomic life, they also appeared to be segregated into certain activities (‘glass walls’) and to have restricted opportunities for ongoing training, capacity building and networking in the cultural field.

At a time where the multiple (cultural and economic) dimensions of artistic goods and services seem to be well understood, “the pace of implementation needs to be not just maintained, but also and above all intensified, so that the next round of reporting on the monitoring process can bring us appreciably closer to the ambitious goals of the Convention“, the report says.

In this sense, experts involved in the writing of the report actively highlight the lack of data and precise statistics on cultural expression, diversity and cultural industries, and call for government to facilitate the homogenization of sources in order to produce relevant, helpful and stable indicators.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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