Designing new policies to support digital arts – UNESCO presents at the World Summit on Arts & Culture in Malta  

Reforming cultural policies and designing new models for art production and distribution in the digital era is key for enhancing the creative industries. This was the message UNESCO presented at a session of the 7th annual World Summit on Arts and Culture in Malta between 18-21 October, 2016.

The theme of this year’s World Summit was ‘At the crossroads? Cultural Leadership in the 21st century - bringing together scores of leading experts in cultural policy making from arts organisations from around the world. They explored the changing perceptions of cultural leadership and addressed key questions such as, how cultural leadership is defined in different cultures and how governments and civil society can collaborate better.

Ms Danielle Cliche, Chief of Section of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Secretary of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, UNESCO presented on the importance of cultural leadership . She stressed the need for long term vision in creating and changing policies to deal with modern day needs.

‘’Change doesn’t happen overnight and so policy-makers need to have a long-term vision to make progress on sustainable development in their countries. This vision should include the needs of all stakeholders, including civil society and creative professionals,’’ Ms Danielle Cliche said.

Ms Cliche explained that the policies implemented in line with the principles of the 2005 Convention would help build stronger creative industries around the world and support economic and social progress in developing countries in particular.

The World Summit comes at a time when the industries of art and culture are proudly impacted by digital technologies which also affect the entire creative chain - from creation to production, access and participation, as outlined in UNESCO’s 2015 edition of the Global Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies.

“Culture and digital technologies are much more intertwined than we usually think. In fact, the cultural scene is already governed by data and metadata – regardless of whether the end product is physical or digital,” International Expert, Octavio Kulesz said during his presentation at the Summit. 

To inform policies that support increased access to cultural life and new forms of digital creativity, as well as the rights of artists, a new set of draft operational guidelines on digital issues will be presented at the next session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the 2005 Convention (12-15 December 2016).  

In this context, a regional comparative study on digital issues in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain and Mexico, funded by the Government of Spain and carried out by Octavio Kulesz, will also be presented to this session of the Committee. This study pays particular attention to the book, music and film industries, looking at how changes have brought both opportunities and challenges to the creative chain in four areas: access to culture; creativity; cultural industries; participation of civil society.

Other panels at the annual summit touched on a range of issues including freedom of expression for artists and the inclusion of clauses of cultural goods and services in international and regional trade agreements. Nine experts from the 2005’s Convention Expert Facility participated in these various panels: Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Jordi Baltà, Milena Dragičević Šešić, Octavio Kulesz, Christine M. Merkel, Robert Palmer, Anupama Sekhar, Carlos Carlos Villaseñor, Garry Neil.

The World Summit has been organised by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) - a global network of arts councils and ministries of culture with members in 70 countries.

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