Government and creators form a united front for Mongolian creative industry
Mongolian creativity is on the rise. Record number of artists are representing the country at international events such as Venice Art Biennale. This year’s Silk Road International Fashion Week is due to take place in Mongolia. Competition for audience, however, is increasingly fierce and imbalanced; share of global exports of cultural goods by top 10 countries has reached 79 per cent in 2013, up by ten points from 2004. In this climate of market concentration, how can countries around the world with a budding yet still modest creative industry including Mongolia promote domestic cultural goods and services as well as compete internationally?
On 9 May 2019, over 120 participants sat down together during the Mongolian Innovation Week 2019 at a multi-stakeholder consultation meeting to examine existing and future initiatives which support contemporary cultural expressions. The participants discussed topics such as reinforcing human resources in creative businesses, developing access of Mongolian cultural goods and services in Mongolia and abroad, why young people watch American or Russian movies, and what can be done to promote domestic contents.
The event, organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the Government of Mongolia, kick-started a project “Reshaping cultural policies for the promotion of fundamental freedoms and the diversity of cultural expressions” (2018-2021), a project funded by the Government of Sweden. “The ultimate goal of this project is to create a cultural policy monitoring mechanism in Mongolia that is truly participatory, which is reflected in the various faces of cultural actors that we see in this room today,” mentioned Hema Gurung, culture specialist at the UNESCO Beijing Office.
Baigali Ochkhuu, the president of International Women's Federation of Commerce and Industry Mongolia, provided a gendered perspective during the meeting. Noting positive developments, Ochkhuu said “Mongolia has witnessed several positive changes in the past 3 years concerning female representation in the Mongolian cultural sector,” including an increasing number of women producers and directors as well as investors. At the same time, she also pointed out that “there are no provisions on gender equality concept in the Mongolian Law on Culture.” Ochkhuu has observed the tendency for the government and civil society organizations to support male artists and male-centric storytelling, and that “women work in low or middle income levels” of the sector.
Bilegbaatar Zundui-Odor believes that the Internet has had a mainly positive impact on the country’s contemporary culture. “It seems to me that the younger generation appreciate the Mongolian culture more than our generation. I think the Internet plays a major role in generation-z,” reflects Bilegbaatar, citing an example of a Mongolian band, The Hu, the first Mongolian band to be on the billboard and iTunes charts. He estimates that the country’s young population is behind their success. “Sixty-five per cent of the population is under 35 years old. Also, the smart phone penetration is more than 70% among young generation,” says Bilegbaatar.
“Culture is clearly a resource for development in Mongolia, and this UNESCO consultation meeting was timely as CCI development is in line with the government strategy”, said H.E. Mr Ganbayar Ganbold, Vice-Minister for Education, Culture, Science and Sports.
The Government has been an active advocate for domestic creativity, having implemented a wide range of policies over the years, as displayed in 2012 and 2016 quadrennial periodic reports on the implementation of UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, ratified by Mongolia as early as 2007. The State Policy on Industrial Sector, adopted in 2015, is the embodiment of their unwavering commitment to the development of cultural industries.
The next step of the project is a national workshop to train Mongolia’s national team to complete a country periodic report. Positive policy initiatives from Mongolia will be highlighted in the third edition of the UNESCO’s Global Report series to be published in June 2021.
See Announcement of event.