Periodic Report Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic acceded to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on 24 September 2009, which is why this report covers a four-year period beginning in October 2009 and ending in July 2013. Given the newness of the Ministry of Culture, established in 2000 under Act No. 41-00, accession to the Convention had a significant effect on guiding the country’s cultural policies and the advances made are considered as milestones in the field of culture.
In January 2010, there was a historic moment in Dominican culture when the cultural rights of the entire population were enshrined in the new Constitution of the Dominican Republic, whereby the diversity of cultural expressions was recognized. Following this breakthrough, the Dominican Government renewed its commitment to the promotion and protection of cultural diversity by including in the National Development Strategy of the Dominican Republic 2010-2030 a development objective based on interventions in the field of culture. General Objective 2.6 of the Dominican Republic National Development Strategy, “Culture and national identity in a globalized world”, consists of recovering, promoting and developing the various cultural processes and events that reaffirm the national identity in a framework of participation, pluralism, gender equality and openness to the regional and global environment, as well as promoting decentralization in government intervention in the field of culture through strategic partnerships with municipalities and non-governmental popular cultural organizations that contribute to the integral and sustained development of communities. The aim is to promote the culture of equality, which gives new roles and values to men and women and makes women’s contributions and rights visible throughout the life cycle. The goal is also to encourage participation in cultural activities that contribute to the development of critical understanding and individual thinking, based on the culture of reading and the ability to interpret cultural events, from as early as primary school, as well as the population’s participation in cultural and artistic activities, especially girls and boys, teenagers and young adults.
Within this framework, the Dominican Government has acknowledged culture as an engine for development for the first time, immediately making cultural programmes an important part of national programmes, such as the national literacy plan, the plan to raise the quality of education, the programmes of the Social Cabinet – which runs the country’s social policies – the social development programmes of the Presidency and the First Lady’s Office and development plans in the sector of tourism – which is the country’s main foreign currency generator – among others.
New opportunities regulated by the Ministry of Culture that until then had never been experienced in the country were opened to the entities of the National Culture System, enabling them to institutionalize legal and permanent measures and to develop decentralized or devolved programmes, which have democratized cultural management by engaging people in these events and protecting them while preserving them.
National standards have been extended to institutionally enable and ensure a policy framework for cultural expressions: extending, for example, free access to and circulation of ideas; ensuring copyright; and creating specialized entities and public-private management mechanisms that disseminate, protect and preserve the country’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage, among other things. New tax incentives have been created to encourage private players to invest in the culture sector, forming new sources of funding for cultural activities. One example of this is the cinema law. A draft bill on sponsorship has also been submitted to the National Congress.
The democratization of culture is progressing, with the creation of assessor bodies for the official management of culture and the increase of partnerships, with the growing participation of private players; the operational establishment of organizations created by public laws and provisions that had become incompetent; the application of new management styles that include the planning of projects requested by the communities, based on a mechanism for convening public meetings in all the provinces; the use of cultural entities throughout the country, such as those that make up the national system of culture centres, fine arts schools and free schools, among others. Moreover, specific populations, such as children, women, elderly people and people with different abilities now have programmes to express and share their artistic talents. The establishment of the Dominican Orchestral Theatre is one example, including people with physical disabilities.
The creative economy is a topic that has been recently introduced into cultural management, which has made significant steps in a short amount of time, such as the establishment of craftworker inventories and production units in the various productive cultural sectors. Ibero-American experts have worked together to guide the way. Lastly, and most importantly, the Dominican Republic has initiated the creation process for a Culture Satellite Account.
The participation of civil society has been crucial in the application of measures to promote and protect cultural diversity. The creation of the Dominican Network of Local Cultures, with representation from NGOs of all of the country’s official regions, and the programmes developed by them are vital to the promotion of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, through holding development of workshops, seminars, festivals and other events around this theme. While the National Culture System is growing stronger by continuing the programmes that it has started, the Dominican Republic has yet to consolidate the recognition of culture as an engine for development – among the policy-makers as well as the general population – since there are still a large number of Dominicans who are not aware of their cultural rights and do not have access to the initiatives and projects that would allow them to enjoy and participate in culture.