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Culturelink review, no.29/November 1999 - contents - imprint - archive

The Role of Culture in Development at the Heart of Florence Conference

The Conference Culture Counts: Financing Resources and the Economics of Culture in Sustainable Development (More about the conference in the next issue of Culturelink.), organised by the government of Italy and the World Bank with the co-operation of UNESCO, took place in Florence (Italy), 4-7 October 1999.

The conference on the relation between culture and development brought together some 700 participants, who discussed new approaches to funding and ways of improving partnerships. The topics in the plenary sessions included: Culture and Sustainable Development: Threats and Tensions; The Role of Culture in Sustainable Development; Multilateral Development Banks: Development Impact of Cultural Programmes and Projects; Strategies to Support Culture in Sustainable Development.

Roundtables and seminars gave the participants an opportunity to deepen their grasp of the relationship between culture and sustainable development, notably in multicultural societies, developing countries and economies in transition.

UNESCO considered its active participation in the Florence Conference as the continuation of work undertaken at the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm, 1998). UNESCO was particularly involved in the organisation of two roundtables (Measuring Culture and Development: Prospects and Limits in Constructing Cultural Indicators, and Investing in Tangibles and Intangibles in Intercultural Dialogue) and a seminar on cultural policies at municipal and regional levels (Growth and Culture in Urban and Regional Proximity). These sessions highlighted the fact that the contribution of culture to sustainable development far exceeds concerns for immediate returns.

In a plenary session, UNESCO and the Italian government presented a jointly prepared text, 'Towards New Strategies for Culture in Sustainable Development', which states: 'We must [...] envision development in terms that encompass cultural growth and community well-being. Thus purely economic opportunities must be reconciled with meanings and values - including non-use values. Once this is recognised, then poverty of spirit, of belief and of expression are bound to be perceived to be as debilitating as poverty of goods. By the same token, the safeguard of cultural diversity is as important as the achievement of economic self-sufficiency.'

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Culture: A Form of Merchandise Like no Other?

Symposium of experts on Culture, the Market and Globalization

Organized in collaboration with the French National Commission for UNESCO with the support of the Canadian and French Governments
UNESCO, 14 and 15 June 1999

The theme of this Symposium was chosen not only as a follow-up to some of the recommendations of the Plan of Action approved by the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm, 1998), but also to take into account the recent international factors concerning cultural goods.

250 participants took part in the symposium: experts from different regions of the world and representatives of concerned intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, members of UNESCO's Executive Board and Permanent Delegates of the Member States to UNESCO, observers, as well as members of UNESCO's Secretariat.

General Conclusions
Report by Mr. Jacques Renard (abstracts)

This meeting took place at a time when the major implications of the cultural industries were already recognized, which was perhaps not the case only ten or twenty years ago. These implications are economic, political and cultural. They also concern the status of works of minds in this broader context - after all, the industries of the imagination, content, knowledge, innovation and creation clearly are the industries of the future as we move into the twenty-first century. They are also important contributory factors to employment and economic growth.

The underlying principles and objectives of the symposium proceedings can be recapitulated briefly: the importance of the cultural dimension of development, preservation of cultural identities, international cultural cooperation and dialogue between cultures, together with the notion that access to the information society and the role of the new technologies are one of the major challenges facing cultural policy today and still more so in future.

The first round table focused on the definition of cultural goods. A consensus view acknowledged the 'essential duality' of cultural products: cultural goods are at one and the same time commercial objects and assets which convey values, ideas and meanings. Hence the specificity of cultural goods. Of course, it might be maintained that a cultural good is not primarily a form of merchandise, but above all a work, a creation, with all that this implies in terms of boldness and risk-taking. But when it comes to the cultural industries, there is no getting away from the fact that these goods are produced, circulated and exploited according to a logic which is economic and market-related. So it is perfectly legitimate to recognize their economic dimension too.

The discussion enabled the implications of the international trade negotiations to be reviewed, together with the role which cultural products should or should not play in them. The former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and more recently the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its next 'Round' were mentioned. On the subject of the place of cultural goods in this context, the discussions centred on the possible strategies which might be adopted: Should cultural goods be completely excluded from these negotiations, at the risk of isolating them? Should they be included while rejecting any commitments in respect of the audio-visual and cinematographic sector in particular, as was the case in GATT with the affirmation of the cultural exception? Should we fight to maintain the status quo or ask that new services enjoy the same treatment in future? Should we put in place specific rules in the international negotiations within the WTO or even go so far as to draw up international conventions on cultural products designed to preserve cultural diversity? Those are some of the possible strategies between which it was not for this symposium to reach a verdict.

The second round table focused on globalization and the promotion of cultural diversity. Globalization can have positive effects on cultural life because it multiplies exchanges of goods and services and is also beneficial to the consumer, user or citizen by giving them broader access to cultural goods. It may also have negative effects when it is accompanied by the process of market deregulation and economic concentration with twofold threats as the result of this: the domination of strong countries over others and the domination of powerful multinational companies over local, national or independent businesses. Does globalization threaten cultural identities?

This leads to a more general reflection: culture is essentially a dialectic of the universal and the particular. Identities must be preserved, but excessive emphasis on 'identity' should be avoided because it leads to the exclusion of others, which is the exact opposite of the promotion of identity. Men and women must also be offered common values and references, not forgetting the specific features handed down through the ages, history, memory, and respect for identities.

The final round table dealt with public policies: how can culture be kept alive? The debate centred more on the environment and underlying criteria than on the goals, orientations and procedures of public action. Approaches clearly differ between the industrialized and developing countries.

A number of other points were made:

  • At every opportunity, in the industrialized and developing countries alike, an endeavour must be made to associate public and private partners, business interests and artists, authors and producers; concertation is vital: public policies cannot be handed down by decree. All these actors in cultural life must come together to enable an autonomous and rich civil society to remain alive or see the light of day.
  • If public policies are held to be necessary, they must be strong and resolute.
  • International cooperation and aid for the developing countries must not only focus on the implementation or specific financing of projects such as films, but even more on support for the creation of structuring elements in the respective countries to enable them to build up their own cultural industry.

Three types of discussion might be suggested for the future and UNESCO might wish to take the initiative in organizing them:

  • a debate on the strategies to be adopted in international negotiations;
  • a debate on the contents and procedures of public action;
  • a debate on particular sectors (the economics of books, the cinema and records are not exactly the same) and on the major regions of the world.

Further reflection is imperative, not just on the negotiations which will open in the near future but also, in the not very remote perspective of transition to the twenty-first century, on the way in which the future may be invented by reconciling two aspirations: those of unity and diversity.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Georges Poussin, Programme Specialist, CLT/CIC/BCI, tel.: 33 1 45 68 38 71; fax: 33 1 45 68 55 95; e-mail: g.poussin@unesco.org;
or Ms Jennie Chartier, tel.: 33 (0)1 45 68 43 46; fax: 33 (0) 1 45 68 55 95, at the Division of Creativity, Cultural Industries and Copyright; http://www.unesco.org/culture/industries/

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The Regional Informatics Network for Africa (RINAF)

An external evaluation for UNESCO by Michael Jensen
UNESCO, CII-98/WS/14, 1998, Vol. 1, 41 pp., Vol. 2, 143 pp.

The Regional Informatics Network for Africa (RINAF) was initiated in 1992 within the UNESCO Intergovernmental Informatics Programme, and focused on training and networking equipment for 26 countries, helping them to initiate or extend Internet connectivity for education and research. Recently, RINAF extended beyond the network development in the academic and research sectors, encompassing telematics applications in public service sectors, the promotion of universal access to telematics for development and support for national and regional policies and planning. This evaluation of RINAF has been commissioned at the turning point in informatization in Africa to assess the actual and potential impact of UNESCO's support for the region in the telematics area, also providing recommendations on the organization of RINAF and on future co-operation modalities.

The report identifies the future requirements for sound support strategies in further programmes of support for networking in Africa within the areas of UNESCO's responsibilities. It provides such an insight by analyzing the overall context within which RINAF is operating (evaluation) and by providing a survey of each country's networking environment in the form of country profiles (appendix). Numerous recommendations for further actions are made, focusing also on UNESCO's role of an intermediary in developing effective partnerships with key actors.

Apart from the already mentioned country profiles, the Appendices give a summary of the new international information and communication technologies (ICT) projects in Africa, providing data on available Internet resources (mainly Website addresses) of a wide range of ICT-related initiatives and activities.

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The UNESCO '98 Mediterranean Programme

UNESCO, Paris, 1999, 71 pp.

This book, published simultaneously in French, English and Arabic languages, presents the activities of UNESCO's Mediterranean Programme, a network of networks that gathers over 1,000 organizations, centres, universities and municipalities and brings together the activities specific to the Mediterranean region. Numerous networks co-operating within the Programme are listed, with basic information on their activities (such as the Network of Mediterranean Study Centres, the Network of Mediterranean Foundations, the International Institute of Mediterranean Theatre, etc.). Also, short profiles of activities associated with the Programme are presented (AMAR-UNESCO Project, Association for Cultural Exchanges in the Mediterranean - ECUME, Euromed Civil Forum, etc.). The book brings a comprehensive list of persons in charge of specific networks and associated activities, so that contacts could be easily established.

The Programme is developing around four major concerns: the wish to bring into being a culture of peace, the laying of foundations for sustainable co-development, the promotion of intercultural dialogue focused on human rights, and encouragement for the processes of Mediterranean globalization. Those are also the principles that the networks and organizations within the Programme are supposed to promote.

This publication is an important directory of the cultural activities and networks in the Mediterranean region. One objection: the cover of the book, illustrating the geographical and political map of that part of the world, counts fewer countries than the region actually embraces - the eastern coast of the Adriatic is showing just one country (ex-Yugoslavia) instead of four: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yugoslavia.

Is it possible that in 1999 UNESCO still has old 1991 maps?

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The Ford Foundation Funds the Asian Migration Research Project of UNESCO'S MOST Programme

The Ford Foundation will provide US$ 300,000 to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Transformation Studies (CAPSTRANS), operated by the University of Wollongong (Australia) in cooperation with UNESCO's Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST), to study migration issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Projects to be funded by the grant focus on three major research areas: the effects of female migration on families and communities in the area of origin (to be administered by Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), undocumented migration issues, regulation and human rights (administered by the Scalabrini Migration Centre in the Philippines), and returning migrants and migrants abroad as agents of change (administered by CAPSTRANS).

The research projects will run for two years and involve teams in at least nine countries.

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UNESCO Islamabad 1998

UNESCO, Islamabad, 1999, 60 pp.

The Report UNESCO Islamabad 1998 highlights the major initiatives undertaken by the Islamabad office in 1998, within the programme framework of UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy 1996-2001. The Report covers programmes in education, social and human sciences, and culture. Specific programmes and actions are formulated in close cooperation with the implementing partners - governmental, non-governmental and other agencies. Among the appendices, a list of UN agencies and related institutions in Pakistan and Afghanistan is enclosed, as well as UNESCO's Field Offices and related institutions in Asia and the Pacific. This Report gives an interesting insight into the activities of the Islamic countries in the field of culture.

For more information, please contact: UNESCO, First Floor, Saudi Park Tower, P.O. Box 2034, Islamabad, Pakistan, tel.: (92 51) 829 4523; fax: (92 51) 825 341; e-mail: pkasaju@un.org.pk

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The Seed is Sown/Le grain est semé

10 Years of 'Arts in Hospital'
Austrian Commission for UNESCO, Rema-Print, 1998, 304 pp.

This book, with parallel texts in English and French, represents an outstanding and comprehensive effort to put in one place all of the activities and experiences gained during the project entitled Arts in Hospital, as well as to give the readers and experts in the field an insight into procedures, events and approaches practised in the process (an impressive interdisciplinary variety), including their evaluation.

From its start in 1988, when it appeared as number 001 on the first list of UNESCO's World Decade Activities and throughout its duration, the project remained not only an application of works of art in sick-rooms but the dignified and cultural contact among people in the hospital, in the interest of a higher quality of life for doctors, personnel, patients and their relatives. Later, the project premises were more and more expanded (old peoples' and nursing homes, health spas and sanatoriums, institutions for handicapped people, physicians' practices) and preventive medicine and traditional medicine were recognized as part of cultural heritage. The project covered several countries: Sweden, France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Austria and Slovenia hosted international scientific conferences, while the Coordinating Committee also met in Belarus, Estonia and at UNESCO's Headquarters in Paris.

The book is structured around the main themes dealt with in the project, such as the Role of Culture and Arts in Hospitals, Atmosphere and Social Intercourse; Arts as a Means of Therapy; Arts in Psychiatry; Cultural Influences of Hospitals on Their Urban or Rural Environment, Construction of Hospitals, and Training and Retraining of Health Care Staff. A chapter with recommendations addressed to UNESCO, the WHO, national and local authorities is to be found at the end of this publication, thus setting the guidelines for future activities.

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Archives and New Technologies in Africa

UNESCO assists archives in developing countries to fully play their role in the Information Society through the preparation of guidelines for the establishment of digitization policies for archival documents. These guidelines include recommendations on the selection and preparation of documents for digitization, acquisition of adequate hard- and software, basic digitization techniques, creation of websites for making the documents available on the Internet.

The guidelines also include a general assessment of the use of new technologies in archives in African countries, with particular attention given to access to the Internet, utilization of on-line services, provision of information services on the Internet through websites, making finding aids electronically available, creation of electronic repositories, etc.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Axel Plathe, CII/INF, UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France, tel.: (33-1) 45 68 44 67; fax: (33-1) 45 68 55 82; e-mail: a.plathe@unesco.org

(Source: UNISIST Newsletter, Vol. 26 no. 2/1998)

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Joint Technical Symposium (JTS)

Paris 2000

The challenge of archiving, restoration and communication practices in the new digital and Internet environments and the degradation of modern support for film, video and multimedia are the two main themes of the Joint Technical Symposium (JTS) to be organized in the year 2000 by three international audiovisual organisations - the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT), and the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA).

These three non-governmental organisations see the preservation and restoration of original image and sound materials collections as their primary objectives.

A website has been opened to provide complete information on Paris 2000 JTS and to display the themes that will be developed in the course of the Symposium.

A call for papers is being launched through a discussion forum.

For more information on Audiovisual Archives, please contact: Ms. Joie Springer, CII/INF, UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France, tel.: (33-1) 45 68 44 97; fax: (33-1) 45 68 55 82; e-mail: j.springer@unesco.org; http://www.cst.fr/jts2000/index.htm

(Source: UNISIST Newsletter, Vol. 26 no. 2/1998)

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Cultural Programmes on European Public Television Channels

UNESCO and the European Commission
CLT-98/WS/11, 1998, 164 p.

Professor José Vidal-Beneyto chaired a steering committee jointly commissioned by UNESCO and the European Commission to undertake a comparative study of cultural productions in the programming of the main European public television channels. The commission was also asked to formulate recommendations to assist the development of programming of cultural productions of existing and future television channels in the European Community.

The study concentrates on the fundamental relationship between broadcasting policies and audiovisual production and shows that the fate of television productions with a cultural slant is very much linked to all kinds of measures to encourage this type of programmes. In the approach to the study of cultural programmes, the report is clear in presenting six 'equations' which influence and define the analysis of the topic. These equations include differences in defining cultural meaning, the technological utopia without a guarantee that technological development will lead to diversification of programming, the public service swayed by the wishes of the viewer, problems of pursuing common objectives on the part of the multiple actors involved in the programmes with cultural content, the issue of regulating the audiovisual industry, and the prospect of multimedia and its impact on broadcasting, which at this time is still only a promise and not a realized reality. The comparative study of the place of cultural production covered 15 countries and 33 public television channels. The wealth of data and analysis on this specific and not often so thoroughly covered topic is the best recommendation for this book.