3, 2, 1… Re|Shape Cultural Policies in Africa!

On 21 March 2018, UNESCO’s 2018 Global Report "Re|Shaping Cultural Policies" was launched at the Théodore Monod Museum of African Art, bringing together nearly 200 people, including representatives from various cultural and public institutions. Organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN), the event was part of a series of seminars on cultural policies in Senegal.

Today, cultural industries are worth US$ 2,250 billion and employ 30 million people worldwide. However, questions remain over whether this new creative economy can promote a greater diversity of cultural goods and services. To address these questions, "Re|Shaping Cultural Policies" analyzes the implementation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and evaluates policies that support creativity around the world .

Lamine Sarr, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Culture, Abdoulaye Touré, Director of IFAN and Aliou Ly, Secretary General of the Senegalese National Commission for UNESCO, opened the event.

"The Global Report reminds us that contemporary creativity is at the heart of the sustainable development of societies. Promote pluralism and democratize cultural practices, especially for women; invest in digital; support the economic and social rights of artists, including copyright; and involve cultural actors and civil society: those are our priorities for the years to come," said Lamine Sarr.

Ms. Danielle Cliche, Secretary of the 2005 Convention, then presented the main conclusions and recommendations of the Report: "This report is a roadmap, particularly to help establish sustainable, participatory and transparent systems of governance for culture. We must continue to inspire cultural policies and measures around the world for freedom, access and openness, "she said.

Cultural policies in the age of digital platforms

The first panel discussion, moderated by Moutapha Diop, chief executive of Musik Bi, the first legal music download site in Africa, was an opportunity for him to highlight the sector’s challenges:

"Equitable compensation and distribution of digital revenues between broadcasters and creators are the first challenges. Costs imposed by telecom operators also remain too high, and artists cannot keep up. As recommended by the Global Report, we must also ensure that digital resources are available to everyone."

Esi Atiase, visual artist and videographer and Marion Louisgrand Sylla, director of the Kër Thiossane digital creation center in Dakar, focused on the emergence of new collaborative platforms, allowing new audiences to network, while calling for sustainable financing and support mechanisms.

"The digital environment is constantly changing," said Octavio Kulesz, one of the report's authors. "It is necessary that public institutions intervene at all levels simultaneously facilitating access for consumers,  creativity and the emergence of viable markets"

Cultural policies and gender equality

While women make up half of those working in cultural and creative industries, there is a persistent gap between men and women around the world in terms of pay, access to finance and representation in decision-making positions. For example, the music industry in West Africa remains marked by significant gender disparities. Women account for less than 30% of employees in most occupations in this sector. Among those who are employed, 90% are costumers or hairdressers, positions traditionally considered "feminine".

The second panel, moderated by Hawa Ba, Senegal Director of the Open Society Initiative Foundation for West Africa (OSIWA), included Daniel Gomes (President of the Association of Music Professions in Senegal, AMS), Fatou Kounde, visual artist and director, and Anthony Krause (Head of Policy and Research Unit, UNESCO), and provided an overview of gender equality policies.

"The culture of creativity begins with education," said Fatou Kande. "But these are also life journeys, professional itineraries. It must be demonstrated that women also succeed in cultural professions, can manage their careers and become fully financially independent."

Daniel Gomes recalled that women artists in Senegal can now turn to new professional sectors, once closed to them. "Beyond skills, there are still some obstacles. There is a need to rethink evaluation and eligibility criteria for funding mechanisms," he suggested.