Capturing Palestinian arts professionals’ voices
Despite severe political and economic challenges, the cultural and creative industries in Palestine have continuously grown: the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival, the Palestinian International Book Fair or the Ramallah Poetry Festival and Palestine Cinema Days are examples that capture the dynamism of the culture and creative sector. The Palestinian Culture Fund supports diverse cultural projects and activities including theatre, cinema, fine arts, music and literature. The fund is also known for creating cultural spaces that are equipped to host cultural performances, particularly in marginalized locations. Civil society is strongly engaged in Palestine to develop and professionalize the creative sector, notably through investing in arts education and creating networks of cultural advocates.
In order to capture the voices of such actors on the ground, civil society actors and public stakeholders across Palestine will be invited to join UNESCO’s multi-stakeholder consultations in the West Bank (9 December), East Jerusalem (26th November11 December) and Gaza (December). Participants will discuss the current state of cultural governance in Palestine, and these inputs will be used in Palestine’s quadrennial periodic report, a mandatory form submitted to UNESCO every four years on the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005). Participants will also engage in the first cultural survey in Palestine based on the UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS).
Organised by the UNESCO Office in Ramallah in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, the consultations will be followed by a national training workshop in December 2019, during which a national team consisted of government representatives, cultural professionals and artists will work together to prepare for the reporting. Led by Fatin Farhat, member of the UNESCO Expert Facility, the Team will expand their knowledge on the 2005 Convention’s Monitoring Framework as well as the newly redesigned format used in the QPR.
The periodic report aims to highlight achievements and challenges, notably in four major areas - the governance of culture, the mobility and the status of artists, gender equality, and artistic freedom. Palestine’s first periodic report in 2017 included an innovative measure: the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music Outreach Programme. The Programme has given underprivileged children the opportunity to learn music and enhanced access to cultural offerings among marginalized populations. The submission of Palestine’s second periodic report will reinvigorate a participatory policy dialogue on the governance of culture between various creative stakeholders and to acknowledge progresses made and challenges to be overcome.
The capacity-building activities are part of the project “Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions”, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The project, which includes 16 beneficiary countries amongst which Palestine, aims to strengthen the human and institutional capacities of governmental and civil society actors in order to monitor and report on policies and measures that protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.