Creating an enabling environment for creative sectors in Georgia and Zimbabwe

When it comes to cultural governance, there is no magic formula. Each country possesses unique strengths and challenges that must be considered if policies are to effectively unleash the potential of local artists and creators. What is universal is the cultural and creative industries’ (CCIs) potential, producing US$250 billion per year and employing more people aged 15-29 than any other sector. How do developing countries create a globally competitive market for creative industries? With the support of UNESCO, Georgia and Zimbabwe take on the challenge through tailor-made cultural policymaking and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

Georgia and Zimbabwe have been selected as the first beneficiaries of the “EU/UNESCO Expert Facility on the Governance of Culture in developing countries” project, funded by the European Union (EU). The project aims to strengthen governmental support systems for creative workers in developing countries, in particular through designing, adapting and implementing regulatory frameworks such as laws, strategies, policies and measures, guided by needs and priorities identified by each country. The spirit of partnership and South-South cooperation is the foundation of this project, enforced at every step of the process. International and national experts, matched with the country’s multi-stakeholder team based on their thematic and regional experience, explore ways to strengthen national cultural policies together. Through constant knowledge transfers from experts to the national team, the project ensures that the ownership of the cultural planning belongs to and stays with local actors, sowing the seeds of sustainable growth of the domestic creative sector.

 

Creative Ecosystem in Georgia

Cultural Strategy 2025, adopted in 2016, represents Georgia’s strategic shift. It acknowledged the role of CCIs for economic growth, in particular for job creation and innovation, and recognized the creative sector as “a competitive sphere of activity.” Against this backdrop, Creative Georgia was established as part of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport in 2017 with one mission:  to create an environment for creative industries to thrive through programs, projects and grants.

The collaboration with the EU and UNESCO gives Creative Georgia the opportunity to translate this mission into concrete, sustainable actions. Developing a Creative Cluster Ecosystem in Tbilisi and beyond, built on favorable policy environment, is one such initiative: the Ecosystem, consisting of physical and virtual sites, unites traditionally disconnected actors with a common thread – creativity, innovation and ICT. The project will support Georgia’s efforts to create a new regulatory framework for the cluster by analyzing best practices and innovative legislations, elaborating a policy paper, and designing new legal and fiscal measures. An action plan will be developed and implemented to support the enactment. The enthusiasm from across the country is promising; in the initial survey, there were already over 40 organizations eager to join the network. With the assistance of experts and peers, Creative Georgia hopes to develop an inclusive cultural network, uniquely tailored to the needs of Georgian creatives.

 

Creativity as part of Zimbabwe’s development

When the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe was created almost 35 years ago, the arts and cultural landscape was far from today’s dynamic CCIs which, in 2012, accounted for 6.96% of the country’s GDP[i]. The Council’s presence has remained constant and open, providing guidance to government, organizations and individuals “in any matter concerned directly or indirectly with the arts.” Despite the stride it has made, the country’s creative sector remains largely informal. Without strategy, the role of creativity in Zimbabwe’s long-term development is yet to be defined, lacking a sense of direction.

The Council is hopeful that cooperation with UNESCO can fast track the formulation of a robust strategy informed by regional and international best practices. In order to harness the new opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, the project puts the digital environment and creative entrepreneurship in the heart of the strategy. The collaboration also responds to the African Union’s 2063 Agenda “The Africa We Want”, by promoting “the creativity, energy and innovation of Africa’s youth being the driving force behind the continent’s political, social, cultural and economic transformation.”

 

Ongoing on-demand call for assistance

This non-financial assistance project, supported by the EU/UNESCO international Expert Facility, lasts 18 to 24 months and is expected to lay the groundwork for dynamic CCIs in developing countries. The call for applications to eligible countries, launched in December 2018, remains open until twelve countries, or more if budget allows, have been selected. The selection is likely to conclude by the end of 2019.

Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis by a Steering Committee composed of UNESCO and the EU. For more information, visit the call for applications page.