May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. In this article we look to the impact of Covid-19 on the Cultural Diversity sector worldwide, the origin of this United Nations Observance, and ways to celebrate this day. A link is given to Culture in Crisis: Policy guide for a resilient creative sector.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural Sector
Cultural events cancelled, cultural institutions closed, community cultural practices suspended, empty World Heritage sites, heightened risk of looting of cultural sites and poaching at natural sites, artists unable to make ends meet and the cultural tourism sector greatly affected… The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector is being felt around the world. This impact is social, economic and political – it affects the fundamental right of access to culture, the social rights of artists and creative professionals, and the protection of a diversity of cultural expressions.
Why does cultural diversity matter?
Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.
Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. This is captured in the culture conventions, which provide a solid basis for the promotion of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development.
At the same time, acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity – in particular through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) – are conducive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding.
Origin and purpose
In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. and in In December 2002, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 57/249, declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, and in 2015, the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development A/C.2/70/L.59, affirming culture’s contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, acknowledging further the natural and cultural diversity of the world, and recognizing that cultures and civilizations can contribute to, and are crucial enablers of, sustainable development.
The day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on 20 October 2005:
- Support sustainable systems of governance for culture
- Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase mobility of artists and cultural professionals
- Integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks
- Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms
How to to celebrate the Day
- Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
- Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
- Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi).
- Listen to music of a different culture.
Culture in Crisis: Policy guide for a resilient creative sector
About this publication
The COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis it created have had a devastating effect on the cultural and creative industries, revealing and magnifying their pre-existing volatility. Drawing on policies and measures adopted during the crisis, this practical guide highlights emergency measures that have been deemed effective and beneficial, assesses emerging trends, identifies new and existing gaps and offers practical advice to help policymakers position the cultural and creative industries in social and economic recovery plans.
Culture in Crisis offers advice on how to respond to the most pressing needs and how to induce the structural changes needed to strengthen the resilience of the cultural and creative industries and prepare for the “new normal”.