UNESCO scales up support to improve the status of the artist

In celebration of World Art Day, UNESCO announces concrete action in support of artists and culture professionals worldwide via the UNESCO-Aschberg programme. Over US$ 600,000 in funds will go to the following Member States to improve the status of the artist and promote artistic freedom: Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Gambia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Palestine, Peru, Romania, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Uganda. This funding will support the strengthening of national legislation and policies, capacity building on artistic freedom, monitoring the social and economic rights of the artists and advancing advocacy.

UNESCO received 108 project proposals following a call in September 2021. Projects were evaluated by independent experts, with priority given to Africa and Small Island Developing States, as well as projects focused on youth and gender equality.

The artistic profession is a very unstable formal work in Madagascar. A good number of renowned artists find themselves in bankruptcy at the end of their career while emerging young Malagasy talents in the creative sector often lack knowledge about cultural entrepreneurship… A new status of the artist will allow cultural entrepreneurs to better manage their careers and benefit for instance from the privileges of social security.

Andrianintsoa Faly Ratovonirina, Director of the Arts and Artistic Promotion at the Ministry of Communication and Culture of Madagascar.


The UNESCO-Aschberg programme will provide technical assistance to accompany the Ministry of Communication and Culture of Madagascar to adapt and revise its law on the status of the artist to current needs.

Since 2021, UNESCO has been supporting pilot projects in Peru and Namibia with tangible results. Peru’s Ministry of Culture has revised a law on the status of the artist, aiming to strengthen the social protection of artists and encourage the formalization of artistic and cultural work, while in Namibia, work is underway to strengthen the capacities of both government and civil society to report on, monitor and collect data on artistic freedom in the country.

This new assistance to improve the status of the artist and promote artistic freedom comes as the world prepares to build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health crisis has highlighted the vulnerability of artists and the precariousness of their status. More than ever, the promotion of artists’ economic, social and cultural rights is fundamental. Taxation, social security coverage, unemployment, retirement, copyright, mobility and many other safety nets require laws and public policies that are adapted to preserve the diversity of cultural expressions

 Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO.


As underlined in UNESCO’s 2022 Global Report “Re | Shaping policies for creativity”, the pandemic exposed the sector’s pre-existing vulnerability. The cultural and creative industries, which are estimated to account for 3.1% of global GDP and 6.2% of all employment, were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 10 million jobs lost in 2020 alone, leaving many artists and cultural professionals without revenues and forcing cultural institutions to close their doors, sometimes permanently.

Public investment in culture has been declining, and creative professions remain unstable and underregulated. Disparities between developed and developing countries remain significant, with developed countries leading the trade of cultural goods and services, accounting for 95% of total exports of cultural services. Yet, the pandemic also revealed the power of arts and culture as a as a source of comfort and resilience, attested by an increased consumption of art and culture, especially digital culture.

On World Art’s Day, UNESCO renews its commitment to artists and cultural professionals who are the foundation of arts and culture. “As culture is central to the development of our societies through its economic, social, and environmental benefits and because of its vulnerability to global phenomena, culture is a global public good that needs to be fully protected and promoted for the benefit of humanity as a whole” (UNESCO, 2022).

The UNESCO-Aschberg programme is currently supported by the generous voluntary contribution of the Kingdom of Norway.

“Norway defends the right to express opinions and ideas through the arts and supports cooperation between international and local organizations working to promote freedom of artistic expression and cultural rights.”

Ms Wera Helstrøm, Senior adviser, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


To learn more, visit the UNESCO-Aschberg programme.

For more information about the UNESCO-Aschberg projects for 2022 please click here.