Colombia’s cultural scene is vibrant, contributing to more than 3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
For the past twenty years, the Colombian government has developed institutions, policies, programmes, and projects to support its cultural industries and promote the diversity of cultural expressions. Culture has been integrated into the National Development Plan (2010-2014) from the municipal to State level, and it is one of the targeted objectives of the National Council for Social and Economic Policy. The Mixed Funds for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts and the National System for Artistic and Cultural Formation are some examples of innovative investment and financing mechanisms.
UNESCO’s capacity-building project stimulates this on-going growth of the creative and cultural industries in Colombia by carrying out activities that support transparent and participatory monitoring processes leading to informed decision-making.
The national consultation organized by the 2005 Convention Secretariat and the UNESCO Office in Quito in cooperation with Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture, took place on 9 November 2016, at the Palacio San Carlos in Bogota. Around 60 participants from governmental and civil society organizations gathered for the inaugural session which featured the remarks of Luis Armando Soto Boutin, Head of the Colombian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO; Adriana Gonzalez Hassig, Entrepreneurship Group Coordinator of the Ministry of Culture; and Saadia Sánchez Vegas, Director of the UNESCO Office in Quito. The consultation set the scene for tracking progress on transforming innovative cultural policies into action from when Colombia became a signatory to the Convention in 2013. Key players were given an introduction to the 2005 Convention and how to carry out periodic reporting, as well as discussing the existing complex, rich policy system intended to foster the diversity of cultural expressions.
The training workshop took place at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogota between 30 November 2016 and 1 December 2016 gathering 32 participants from civil society organizations, ministries and media institutions. A special effort was made to ensure the representation of local actors in line with the process of decentralization of culture governance. The participants were introduced to the objectives and areas of intervention of the 2005 Convention. They discussed examples of national policies and measurements addressing the different stages of the cultural value chain; international cultural cooperation and preferential treatment; the participation of civil society in policy making; the integration of culture in sustainable development policies; women and youth in cultural policy; and the promotion of digital technologies. Participants collectively identified key policies and measures to be included in Colombia’s first periodic report, as well as agreeing on the methodologies for gathering relevant data and information.
On 17 May, Colombia presented its first quadrennial periodic report in the Palacio de San Carlos, headquarters of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the national team responsible for the elaboration of the periodic report, the UNESCO Quito Office, and various ministries involved. 120 members from civil society and the government participated in the event. The restitution provided an opportunity to discuss the content of the report and highlight some of the good practices of the Colombian government in promoting the diversity of cultural expressions. These policies and measures included, Law 814 of 2003, which promotes the development of the national film industry and the Public Spectacles Act of 2001, which has contributed to strengthening the performing arts sector. The discussion also served to stimulate the debate on the creative industries in the country light of the recent adoption of the “Orange law”dedicated to this subject.