UNESCO-Aschberg programme for artists and cultural professionals

Type of donor: 
Special Account

Founded in 1956, the UNESCO-Aschberg programme continues to support artistic creativity and diversity. Initially dedicated to promote the training of artists by awarding scholarships for the study of artists-in-residence, it was re-designed in 2017 to support the implementation of UNESCO’s two normative instruments addressing artistic creativity: the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the 1980 Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist.  In 2021, the programme's redesign is particularly timely, given the COVID-19 crisis leaving many artists and cultural professionals, particularly women, vulnerable in the face of economic precarity.

With the support of the Kingdom of Norway

Digital Meets Creativity, Exhibition featuring Korean Artists at UNESCO


Through the UNESCO-Aschberg programme, UNESCO strives to protect and promote artistic freedom, the status of artists and cultural professionals, and to facilitate a balanced flow of cultural goods and services. By looking into areas such as trade of cultural goods and services or human rights, the programme provides technical assistance, tools and capacities to foster the emergence and development of environments conducive to creativity, especially in the Global South.




Status of the artist and artistic freedom


The UNESCO-Aschberg Programme promotes the status of the artist by providing technical assistance and expertise for the revision of legal, policy and regulatory frameworks including through an annual Call for Projects: “UNESCO-Aschberg programme for artists and cultural professionals”, that offers technical assistance and funding to both governmental institutions and civil society organization. The programme also offers cutting-edge expertise covering all regions, training modules on artistic freedom as well as a clearing house. The UNESCO-Aschberg programme gives priority attention to UNESCO’s two global priorities: Africa and Gender. The programme also supports projects focusing on the status of young artists and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).




This is why we need, more than ever, the 2005 Convention as a framework: to build policies that promote artistic freedoms and to nurture, protect and champion the creativity that makes us human

Deeyah Khan, Film Director and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity.


Objectives of the annual UNESCO-Aschberg Call for Projects


Assist policy makers and government institutions in adapting and/or creating policies, laws, regulations, or measures protecting and promoting the status of the artist and cultural professionals in line with the Objectives of the 2005 Convention and the 1980 Recommendation concerning the Status of the artist.

Build the monitoring, inclusive planning and reporting capacities of Member States on the status of the artist and cultural professionals through intersectoral research, capacity building, evidence-informed consultations and policy dialogue involving relevant CSOs.

Enhance public understanding of the important role of artists and cultural professionals for the creative economy, cultural diversity and artistic freedom via innovative communication and advocacy initiatives as well as creative partnerships between Governments and CSOs.

Further details on our technical assistance scheme can be found here.





Preferential treatments for a balanced flow of cultural goods and services

The UNESCO-Aschberg Programme also supports national policies and measures, including preferential treatment, to facilitate a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and promote the mobility of artists and cultural professionals from the Global South. This work stems from Article 16 of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on preferential treatment which contains one of the most binding commitments in the 2005 Convention. Since it requires developed countries to facilitate cultural exchanges with developing countries, this obligation is key to the system of international cooperation set up under the Convention. Its implementation contributes to the achievement of several objectives of the Convention, among which are the reaffirmation of the link between culture and development, the recognition of the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services as vehicles of identity, values and meaning, as well as the promotion of dialogue among cultures with a view to ensuring wider and balanced cultural exchanges in the world. This is done through a wide range of interventions including technical assistance to revise trade and investment agreements, advocacy, trainings, and research on preferential treatments.

Among other initiatives, UNESCO is also collaborating with the UNESCO Chair on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at Laval University in order to create a database of cultural clauses in trade agreements, including the development of an Encoding Guide, a revision of the codification of cultural clauses related to the provisions of the 2005 Convention and an analysis of the results produced within the framework of this project.

Developed countries shall facilitate cultural exchanges with developing countries by granting, through the appropriate institutional and legal frameworks, preferential treatment to artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners, as well as cultural goods and services from developing countries.

Article 16 of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.




For additional information, please contact: aschberg@unesco.org


Supported Projects

UNESCO scales up support to improve the status of the artist worldwide

May 2022 to May 2023
Countries: Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Gambia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Palestine, Peru, Romania, Seychelles, Tunisia, Uganda
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