The 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions recognizes the central role of artists in the creation and production of a diversity of cultural expressions. As part of UNESCO's support for the implementation of the Convention, technical assistance can be provided to countries wishing to develop legislation on the status of the artist. Such assistance relies on the other relevant international normative instrument, namely the 1980 Recommendation on the Status of the Artist. It mainly consists of supporting a multi-stakeholder and participatory process of consultation to gather the views and priorities of government actors in the field of culture, labour, social affairs, education, finance, etc., and of actors of the artistic community and facilitating the organization of the collected information to provide consolidated inputs for the drafting of the law.
So far, only Mauritius has benefitted from this dedicated support. UNESCO assisted the country throughout 2017 to develop a law on the status of the artist with a view to better promoting and protecting artists’ social and economic rights and solidifying platforms for inter-ministerial cooperation.
The assistance provided made it possible to open spaces of dialogue between governmental and non-governmental actors, leading to a growing awareness, particularly institutional awareness, of the need to improve the artists’ socio-economic status with a view to their professionalization as a precondition for the development of cultural and creative industries in Mauritius. Intense exchanges during the various thematic workshops also provided artists with a better understanding of the legislation in place and its degree of adaptability to their specific conditions of work and employment.
In addition to the high degree of public awareness and intersectoral cooperation, the most tangible outcome of the process so far is the consolidation of a series of measures and provisions for consideration by the Ministries concerned in the future law. They include a professional card establishing the artists’ work status (independent self-employed professionals, freelancers or professionals in a quasi-employment relationship), additional social security measures, fiscal measures, and policy measures in the areas of creativity, education and training. The proposed text also establishes a national body to promote artists’ creativity and provide them with relevant career services.
Only in Mauritius, 36 working sessions and 300 participants.
Prime Minister’s commitment to set up a National Arts Fund with an initial allocation of Rs 50 million (equivalent 1.5 million dollars).
Initial input was gained from stakeholders (the relevant ministries, institutions and artists) on the draft status of artist legislation. Thematic focus groups were established. The UNESCO facilitator presented good practices from around the world while leaving it to the stakeholders to identify priorities and examine and select measures that they considered acceptable and feasible in Mauritius.
Six workshops of the thematic focus groups were held on the definition of different categories of professionals in arts; working status; social security and policy measures to support artistic creation in culture, education and training and trade. For each workshop, a preliminary proposal of measures and provisions resulting from the consultations carried out during the first mission in February was presented. The objective of the workshops was twofold: to check whether the proposals reflected the needs expressed by the consulted artists and whether they were compatible with schemes already in place (which could be extended to artists) or whether they required specific measures, or even amendments to existing legislation.
As a result of the working sessions of the thematic focus groups and meetings with the relevant ministries, UNESCO with the support of the expert-facilitator consolidated draft provisions and measures to be considered for the future law, based on which a final round of ministerial and public consultations is needed to ensure ownership and inclusiveness of the process and its end result.