Senegal stands out for its dynamic cultural and creative scene. For artists and cultural professionals, the country is a crossroads that hosts many major regional and international meetings, including the DAKAR’T Biennal of Contemporary Art, amongst the most famous. Several national frameworks recognize the role of creativity for sustainable development in Senegal, including the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) and the Lettre de Politique Sectorielle et de Développement de la Culture et de la Communication (LPSDCC, 2017-2021). Senegal is also carrying out innovative work, supported by both public actors and civil society, in various fields. These include the draft law on the status of the artist; the creation of the Senegalese Copyright and Neighbourhood Rights Association (SODAV); the National Health Mutual Society for Cultural Actors (MNSAC); the Digital Senegal Strategy 2016-2025; and numerous initiatives to promote the rights of women creators.
Party to the Convention since 2006, Senegal has sat several times on the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) where it joined the 23 other countries in June 2019. In accordance with the Convention’s principles of information sharing and transparency, Senegal submitted its first periodic report in 2016, drafted in cooperation with UNESCO and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency. This partnership has been renewed for the preparation of a second periodic report, due in April 2020, which will enable it to evaluate the efforts made over the past four years and to strengthen the mechanisms and spaces of dialogue between public actors and civil society in the monitoring of public policies.
A multi-stakeholder consultation was held on 12 November 2019 in Dakar, Senegal. About 80 people, including representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and several other ministries and public bodies, cultural operators, civil society agents, representatives of development agencies, and journalists, met on this occasion. The Minister of Culture and Communication of Senegal opened the consultation, which presented the objectives of the 2005 Convention and the periodic reporting process as well as the members of the national team. The debate focused in particular on the challenges of decentralization and the role of local and regional authorities, the limited recognition of the role of culture in sustainable development, or the potential of the digital economy and artificial intelligence.
Senegal has embarked on a process of collecting cultural information at the regional level. A working session was devoted to this subject with representatives of regional cultural centres who will participate in the collection of data for the preparation of the periodic report. It is planned that three regional workshops in the south-east, centre and northern part of Senegal will be organised.
A national capacity-building workshop for the Senegalese national team was organised from 13 to 15 November 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, and facilitated by Jordi Balta, a member of the 2005 Convention’s Expert Facility. The workshop focused on identifying policies and measures that could be included in Senegal’s report, as well as methodological issues related to information collection. This was to reflect progress since the submission of its previous report in 2016. A large majority of participants stressed that the workshop had contributed to improving their knowledge of the periodic reporting process and the Convention and its monitoring framework. In the coming months, the national team will collect relevant information and data, consult more widely with civil society and draft Senegal’s periodic report in a participatory manner.
A specific workshop with civil society operators to involve them in the preparation of the periodic report was held on 16 November. About 30 people participated in this workshop, which established channels for the exchange of information between civil society operators and the national team. Several key projects and initiatives were presented and the debates highlighted some of the challenges faced by civil society, including the need to strengthen the training of cultural operators and cultural structures, offer ways to ensure the sustainability of projects and strengthen the presence of civil society in debates on cultural policies.
UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar launched a digital campaign entitled “The voice of resilient women”, which for two weeks featured the portraits and career paths of 10 women creators from West Africa with diverse, inspiring and unique profiles. Two webinars were organized on 3 and 4 August 2020 to launch the campaign and give a voice to the creators. This campaign aims to promote and recognize the contribution of these role models to the dynamism of the cultural and creative sectors whether it be film, music, fashion design, digital art, etc. With the arrival of COVID-19, the idea of making women’s voices heard in this crisis has been strengthened by giving space to these women creators from Mali and Senegal to provide their inputs and analysis of the situation, the difficulties they face and the solutions and different paths they envisage.
To watch the debates, click here.
Africa Culture Consulting organised five ResiliArt debates on 18 May, 11 and 21 June and 9 and 26 July 2020. The debates’ themes were: the enforcement of rights and contracts, the status of the artist and the performance of cultural professionals, and creative industries facing the digital environment. The main recommendations that emerged from the debates concerned the digitalisation of existing databases, the setting up of a revival fund for cancelled cultural events, the creation of a training centre dedicated to cultural actors, or the need to develop a local digital communication strategy accompanied by an economic model.
The public presentation of Senegal’s periodic report held on 26 October 2020 in Dakar, Senegal, was attended by representatives from various ministries, civil society organisations, cultural professionals and artists. The regional and inclusive approach adopted by Senegal to elaborate its periodic report involving regions and local government was saluted. The rich report, which is more than 100 pages, was presented and discussed amongst the participants. The COVID-19 crisis was at the centre of the debates as the conclusions of the report contribute to inform the discussions on future priorities.