Colombia: investing in creativity

UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the National Commission of Colombia UNESCO and the Regional Centre for Book Development in Latin America and Caribbean (CERLALC)   launched the Spanish language version of the 2018 Global Report “Re|Shaping Cultural Policies” in Bogota, Colombia on 14 June. The event highlighted the most recent policy efforts and challenges to promote the diversity of cultural expressions at the national and international levels.  

Cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are on the rise in Colombia. For over a decade, the country has seen several pieces of legislation and policies addressing the film industry with positive results. Now the goal is to further develop measures to address other creative industries. The recent adoption of the so-called “Orange Law” in April 2017 marks a promising step towards supporting the development of all CCIs. Currently, the creative economy represent around 1.5% of the country’s GDP and over US$300 million in exports.

Worldwide, CCIs generate annual revenues of US$2.250 billion and global exports of over US$250 billion. Moreover, these sectors employ more people aged 15−29 than any other sector. In the Latin America and Caribbean context, the creative economy has also become a promising opportunity to move away from the volatility of commodity-dependent economies.

Taking stock of progress

The launch event of the Report, which gathered 150 participants, was opened by Mr. Santiago Ulises Jara, Secretary General of the National Commission Colombia and Mr. Argemiro Cortés Buitrago, Director of Communication at the Ministry of Culture.

“There are successful cases of cultural policies coming from Colombia, for instance in the film industry, which are being shared internationally thanks to the Report. These are contributing to making the country an important reference point for culture at the regional level,” said Argemiro Cortés Buitrago. “Culture and its role for sustainable development and the country’s peace process will continue to be a priority in the agenda of the next government,” he added.

Santiago Ulises Jara also introduced the Colombian quadrennial periodic report submitted to UNESCO on April 2017, which includes examples of innovative policy practices identified in UNESCO’s Policy Monitoring Platform.

Highlighting media diversity

The event included two panel discussions on the implementation of the four goals of the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at the national level and the role of the media in this process.

As distributors, disseminators and mediators of a vibrant array of cultural and artistic contents, the media and particularly, media diversity, is crucial for the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression.

In conjunction with the launch event, UNESCO also organized a training workshop on media diversity on 13 June led by Mr. Charles Vallerand, member of the 2005 Convention Expert Facility. The workshop, gathering some 45 government officials from relevant ministries, private, public and community media professionals, as well as civil society representatives, addressed topics related to media ownership, diversity of content and media freedom.

Furthermore, an inter-sectorial meeting was organized following the launch of the Global Report bringing together representatives from different ministries along with cultural professionals and public and private media managers. This meeting allowed an inclusive and strategic policy dialogue to define potential lines of common work intended to promote the diversity of cultural expressions in the evolving digital environment.

All the activities were organized as part of the project “Enhancing fundamental freedom through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions” supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).