“We must improve the status of the artists and their social protection, and address the unequal distribution of value between creators and digital platforms. Working conditions of artists and cultural workers should be on top of the priorities of public institutions as they start implementing measures to recover from the pandemic”-, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said in her opening remarks at the G20 Culture ministerial meeting last week. Under the Italian presidency, the ministerial meeting took place in Rome on 29 -30 July, being the very first meeting of the G20 devoted to culture. With the upcoming presidencies, the Culture ministerial meeting will become a permanent feature of the G20 annual cycle.
The meeting led to the unanimous adoption of the “Rome Declaration of the G20 Culture Ministers”, a 32-point document which includes the cultural sector within the G20 process, recognising its intrinsic, social and economic value. It recalls that “culture has is an essential component for human development and plays an essential role in fostering the resilience and the regeneration of our economies and our societies heavily affected by the pandemic” and that it is “the foundation for relaunching prosperity, social cohesion and the well-being of people and communities”.
The document also addresses the role of culture in tackling climate change and supports the improvement “of the status, rights, and working conditions of artists and creatives both online and offline”. It calls on governments to “to recognise culture and creativity as an integral part of wider policy agendas, such social cohesion, employment, innovation, health and well-being, the environment, sustainable local development and human rights”. The G20 ministers also reiterated the commitment to “include culture, cultural heritage and the creative sector in national and international post-pandemic recovery strategies, recognising that international cultural exchanges depend on strong cultural and creative actors in all countries”. The European cultural ecosystem has been advocating for earmarking at least 2% of National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) for culture, a pan-European action coordinated by Culture Action Europe.
At the G20 meeting in Rome, countries also shared the commitment to create special forces to protect cultural heritage at risk in crisis areas.