Putting in motion a new vision for Ethiopia’s cultural policy


On 30 April 2019, over 250 cultural professionals gathered in Addis Ababa to attend the public consultation meeting co-organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to discuss the future of Ethiopia’s cultural policy and steps to implement its recently adopted Film Policy.

The meeting was opened jointly by H.E. Ms Bizunesh Meseret, State Minister for Culture of Ethiopia, H.E. Mr Torbjörn Petterson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia and Ms Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, Director of the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa.  

“In the last few years, culture has been recognized as a national asset, an industry, an art, an entertainment, a business, a media, and a government issue,” declared Minister Meseret. “Yet, we need strong institutions that can support the sector. Significant investments remain to be made”, she added.

Professionals from a wide range of creative sectors – film, dance, music, book, and visual and performing arts – were present at the consultation. Over a daylong consultation, they concluded that the urgent needs for art councils and funds, support to civil society organizations, professional training and education institutions, and transparent rules and regulations for copyright management are shared across artistic disciplines. Film producers and filmmakers’ professional associations called for a transparent implementation of legal framework to support the sector’s value chain, from production to dissemination and access (Read Interview with Henok Mebratu).

“The political context in Ethiopia has opened up new opportunities for action. We are here today to reconnect all stakeholders, bridge existing policy gaps and move towards policies and measures that can effectively support creativity and fundamental freedoms, including gender equality and artistic freedom”, emphasized the Director of the UNESCO Office in Addis.

Yisma Tsige, Director of Cultural Industries Development, outlined that loans facilities, fiscal incentives, access to credit services and avoidance of double taxation procedures for artists are some priorities to be discussed with the Ministry of Finance and the Ethiopian Investment Commission. “Operationalizing the film policy adopted in November 2017 is one of our priorities. The preparation of the future quadrennial periodic report on the implementation of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, due in April 2020, will continue to serve as a national forum for exchanging ideas and information for promoting creativity and fundamental freedoms throughout Ethiopia”, he emphasized.

“This meeting offers a renewed opportunity to work more closely with the creative artists and cultural professionals that have gathered and are setting new innovative cultural agendas in the country. It is also therefore a chance to create safe spaces for continued dialogue and cooperation”, praised Swedish Ambassador Petterson.

The consultation took place at the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural heritage (ARCHH) within the framework of the project “Reshaping cultural policies for the promotion of fundamental freedoms and the diversity of cultural expressions” (2018-2021), funded by the Government of Sweden. Through this project, UNESCO supports 16 partner countries to enhance transparent and participatory policymaking for the creative sectors. The project complements the commitments taken under the 2005 Convention, which promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms including gender equality and artistic freedom.

See Announcement of event