Ethiopia has partnered with UNESCO in the implementation of the project “Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the diversity of cultural expressions” (2014-2018), leading to the organization of consultation meetings with government and civil society representatives, workshops on policy monitoring, the successful completion of a second Quadrennial Periodic Report (QPR) in 2016 and the identification of key areas for future policy action. In that context, two important strategies inspired by the principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural expressions have been adopted: the National Cultural Policy (2015) and the Film Policy (2017). As part of the second phase of the project, Ethiopia is partnering again to build on the results achieved so far, sustain the policy dialogue mechanisms and platforms established, and monitor policy priorities in view of the third periodic report to be submitted by April 2020. Follow-up activities will also draw linkages between policy monitoring and policy implementation, notably regarding the operationalization of the film policy to enhance access to cultural life, gender equality and artistic freedom.
Over 250 cultural professionals gathered in Addis Ababa to attend the public consultation meeting co-organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to discuss the future of Ethiopia’s cultural policy and steps to implement its recently adopted Film Policy (30 April 2019).
Professionals from a wide range of creative sectors – film, dance, music, book, and visual and performing arts – were present at the consultation. Over a daylong consultation, they concluded that the urgent needs for art councils and funds, support to civil society organizations, professional training and education institutions, and transparent rules and regulations for copyright management are shared across artistic disciplines. Film producers and filmmakers’ professional associations called for a transparent implementation of legal framework to support the sector’s value chain, from production to dissemination and access.
A national training workshop was organized in Adama, Ethiopia, from 24 to 26 February 2020 by the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport. The national team composed of a variety of stakeholders from various ministries, government institutions and civil society organisations attended the workshop. Focusing on the methodology on how to elaborate Ethiopia’s quadrennial periodic report following the 2005 Convention’s Monitoring Framework, the workshop enabled the participants to identify a first set of policies and measures to be reported. During this three-day meeting, participants trained on data collection and sharing of policies, measures and good practices that protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions. The workshop created an opportunity for networking and dialogue between civil society and government on the need to formulate innovative, forward-looking and evidence-based cultural policies in various sectors.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism partnered with the UNESCO Field Office in Addis Ababa to gather cultural professionals, academics and artists for a ResiliArt debate on 06 May 2020. The panellists included Mr Henok Ayele, director of film and radio drama, Dr Bedilu Wagjira, writer and assistant professor of humanities, language studies and communication at Addis Ababa University, Dr Elizabeth Giorgis, associate professor of art history, criticism and theory in the college of performing and visual art at Addis Ababa University, Mr Bekele Mekonnen, professor of fine arts at the school of fine arts and design and Mr Manyazewal Endeshaw, director general of the National Theatre.
The creation of a national emergency fund for arts and culture to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on artists and cultural professionals was at the centre of the debate. Panellists reminded that this should be established based on international good practices. The debate additionally stressed the role of local authorities and youth in cultural governance and policy-making as well as the digital divide and lack of access to internet data being one of the major challenges to overcome in the next few years.
On 17 October 2020, a consultation was organised with the national team members in charge of elaborating Ethiopia’s quadrennial periodic report (QPR). The national team members were introduced the draft of the QPR and shared their comments and suggestions for its finalization. On 24 October 2020, a multi-stakeholder public presentation was held, gathering actors from various sectors, including from public institutions, civil society, academia and the arts. The public presentation was the opportunity to discuss the process and results of the QPR exercise as well as to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural and creative sectors in the country.
Ethiopia produced a translated and edited version of the QPR into Amharic in order to ensure the wider dissemination of the information and findings at the country level.
Ethiopia participated to a series of hybrid workshops (physical and online) on media diversity and cultural pluralism organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa and involving national stakeholders from three other countries in the region (Mauritius, Tanzania and Uganda).
The national team, coordinated by the national focal point for the 2005 Convention, included media and cultural stakeholders, national experts and government officers. The training provided a platform to build capacities on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and to discuss policies and measures needed to support media diversity and its content across countries in Eastern Africa. It emphasized the strategic role the media play for the implementation of Convention by encouraging the production of diverse cultural content and by promoting access to cultural content .
The workshop was the opportunity to exchange between peers at the national and regional levels on challenges and strategies to reinforce the role of media in the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and to strengthen the network of media and cultural stakeholders in Eastern Africa.
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On 22 February 2022, the Ethiopian Women Visual Artist Association, in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa, organized a workshop on the digitization of art work aiming to reinforce the capacities of 50 Ethiopian female visual artists in the use of the digital environment. The workshop was led by Bekele Mekonen, associate professor of fine arts, poet and educator, Ms. Ruth Ademasu, a multimedia visual artist and photographer, and Mr. Seminas Hadera, founder and Manager of Gerar - Creative Hub for advertisement. This initiative aimed to reduce gender inequalities in the visual art sector by creating new opportunities for economic growth for women through the digital. It addressed the need to reinforce competences in the use of technologies and digital tools to foster a competitive advantage in the creative economy, while driving innovation and creating more job opportunities for women artists in cultural and creative industries.
On this occasion, Mr. Teferi Teklu, Director of Cultural Industry Development in the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Ethiopia, stated during the opening ceremony of the workshop that progress towards gender equality required urgent policy interventions in the areas of artistic freedom and promotion of diversity of cultural expression. After the completion of the training, 20 of the participants joined the Association, to benefit from its support network and future trainings and enhance peer to peer exchange.
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The University of Gondar in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa is currently conducting a mapping of the film sector in Ethiopia. The research includes the collection of data, notably on the economic landscape as well as key stakeholders and institutions. The objectives are to identify key sectoral clusters, undertake a SWOT analysis of the film sector, and develop recommendations for policy makers. Nine key topics were tentatively identified to structure the data collection: human resource development, infrastructure development, rules and regulations, copyrights and neighboring rights, film production, film marketing and distribution, support and incentives, benefits to society, building national image.
This research project is implemented in synergy with the EU-UNESCO project Supporting new regulatory frameworks to strengthen the cultural and creative industries and promote South-South cooperation, from which Ethiopia receive technical assistance. The overall objective is to inform and design an institutional framework for the film industry and to establish a strong foundation for the implementation of Ethiopia’s film policy.
On 20 May 2022, the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa and the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Ethiopia hosted a national launch of the 2022 Global Report, “ReIShaping Policies for Creativity”, at the Ale Felege-Selam School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa. The event gathered a total of 86 participants including government and civil societies stakeholders and representatives from UNESCO. The event was opened by the State Minister of Culture and Sport who reiterated the important role of the cultural and creative industries for the country’s economy and to achieve sustainable development goals. The presentation of the Global Report, led by the national focal point of the 2005 Convention for Ethiopia, was followed by a presentation of the national quadrennial periodic report process by a representative from the Ethiopian Women’s Visual Artist Association and national experts mobilized in its elaboration, and concluded by an exchange session with the audience.
Link to Facebook live video recording (in Amharic): https://www.facebook.com/unescoofficeaddis/videos/1081855679064856/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C