GLOSACI will engage in two international advocacy campaigns:
- A campaign for greater mobility of Global South creatives and
- A campaign to highlight Global South creatives facing persecution in their respective countries
The 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions promotes greater investment by wealthier countries in the creative and cultural industries of the Global South and grants creative goods from the Global South preferential access to Global North markets in order to ensure greater equity in the distribution of ideas and values embedded within creative goods.
Article 14 of the Convention states:
Parties shall endeavour to support cooperation for sustainable development and poverty reduction, especially in relation to the specific needs of developing countries, in order to foster the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector by, inter alia, the following means:
(a) the strengthening of the cultural industries in developing countries through:
(I) creating and strengthening cultural production and distribution capacities in developing countries;
(II) facilitating wider access to the global market and international distribution networks for their cultural activities, goods and services;
Numerous GS countries have signed up to the Convention because of the promises inherent within it.
UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning the Status of the Artist, also housed within the 2005 Convention Secretariat, calls on governments to facilitate international/global exchange and collaboration for artists, including the free international movement of artists.
However, notwithstanding these protocols and governments signing up to these, the lived experience of artists and others engaged in the creative sectors in the Global South, is that they are increasingly discriminated against and severely restricted in travel.
Both reports on the implementation of the 2005 Convention conducted by UNESCO as well as a UNESCO report on the implementation of the Recommendation highlight mobility of Global South artists as a key challenge.
Structural and systemic issues
As stated in the 2016 UNESCO Report, “some of the key challenges to the mobility of artists, as contained in various reports and case studies are:
- The difficulties of artists from developing countries to obtain visas to tour developed countries
- artists often do not conform to the conditions set for granting such visas e.g. regular income in their home countries, permanent jobs in their home countries, proof of intent to return, etc, so that they are seeing as potential economic refugees in the host country
- administrative challenges with some embassies requiring visa applications to be done by the country which is the main destination when artists are conducting multi-country tours, while others require visa applications in the country which is the point of entry
- administrative overload and potential financial losses on the part of the inviting festival or promoters who are then reluctant to invite artists from these countries in future
- leaving one country without a multiple country visa or a multi-entry visa, so that, for example, the artist can start a tour in Germany, travel to the United Kingdom, but cannot return to France
- The difficulties of artists from developing countries to obtain work permits to tour developed countries (similar reasons to those above).
- The difficulties of support personnel to obtain work permits in countries that oblige artists to use local technical and related workers.
- Increased security measures in the developed world so that artists from countries regarded as “terror threats” are often denied visas.
- Increasing security also requires biometric information (finger prints, etc) so that artists are required to apply for visas in person.
- The lack of funding to support mobility of Global South artists from their own countries.
- The absence of consular services in some countries means that artists have to travel to other countries to apply for visas thereby significantly increasing the costs.
- When some countries are represented by consular services other than their own, this creates potential difficulties including a lack of commitment to seeing the application process through.
The consequences of artists not being able to obtain visas and work permits are:
- Less cultural diversity in developed countries as there are fewer artists from the Global South
- Less opportunities for Global South artists to generate income, grow their markets and raise themselves and their extended families out of poverty.
- Attitudes of Global South artists towards developed countries are hardened as they are treated in ways that may be regarded as racist and that imply that the artists/applicants are criminals.
- It makes nonsense of the Convention which encourages preferential access to Global North markets for artists from the Global South, rendering some of the benefits of the Convention for Global South signatories meaningless, and thus making it more difficult to recruit signatories”.
Global North artists are able to travel visa-free to more than 170 countries, while their Global South colleagues – particularly from regions such as Africa, South East Asia and the Arab region – are able to travel to fewer than 80 countries without visas. This is grossly unfair, and a reflection of a fundamentally inequitable global system.
While the challenges are acute within the Global North-Global South configuration, creative practitioners and support workers from the Global South face similar challenges when travelling and touring within the Global South.
In the light of the above, GLOSACI will undertake a campaign to highlight these inequities, and to call for changes to ensure that Global South creatives are treated with dignity and equity.
The elements of the Campaign will include the following:
- Collecting stories of Global South creative practitioners about their experiences with regard to mobility and posting these on an ongoing basis on sites to raise awareness
- Researching and highlighting best practices in the facilitation of artists’ mobility e.g. free movement of artists in the East African region
- Advocating for a “mobility desk/unit” within UNESCO’s Secretariat for the 2005 Convention at which to register adverse mobility experiences of creative practitioners particularly in countries that are signatories to the 2005 Convention and/or the Recommendation, and so that this Mobility Desk/Unit can assist in ameliorating such experiences
- Advocating for the Conference of Parties and Intergovernmental Committee of the 2005 Convention to establish a subcommittee devoted to the issue of mobility, to engage with Global South parties and civil society structures, to find solutions to the mobility challenges of GS artists
- Demanding that, as a minimum, countries that are signatories to the Convention, instruct their embassies and passport control officers to treat people from the Global South generally, and creatives in particular, with the same respect and dignity that they would treat people from the Global North
- To make available information about resources and institutions that facilitate mobility and exchange particularly for Global South creatives
- To work with partners in the Global North who share our concerns, and who are willing to work with us – on our terms – to pursue our objectives
- To lobby our governments – especially those that are signatories to the Convention – to support our campaign, and, failing satisfactory progress within a particular time framework, lobby them to suspend their support for, or to withdraw from the Convention as it would have failed to facilitate a key need: the capacity for creatives from the Global South to access Global North markets.
- To research ways in which creatives can have official endorsements in order to facilitate their travel e.g. official letters from their governments and/or UNESCO to enable them to obtain longer-term, multiple-entry visas
- To campaign for the point of contact for the Convention in every signatory country also to have and provide information and advice about mobility issues as these pertain to their countries, as well as contact details for organisations and persons who could assist creatives who face challenges in this regard
- To assign a GLOSACI Interim Steering Committee as the point person to coordinate a subcommittee to deal with mobility issues
Campaign to highlight the Persecution of Creatives
Freedom of expression is fundamental to the practice of the arts; to the creation, production and distribution literature, music, theatre, visual arts, film, dance, design, etc. There are numerous threats to and restrictions on freedom of creative expression, particularly within Global South countries whose governments generally display authoritarian characteristics.
However, threats to freedom of expression also emanate from other social, political and economic structures, including religious institutions, cultural organisations and bodies that fund the arts.
While we do not believe that the right to freedom of expression is the most absolute, or the primary right to be exercised or enjoyed by citizens (we believe that human beings should enjoy the full gamut of rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), we will highlight situations where artists and others engaged in the creative sector in the Global South, are targeted for persecution because of their practice of freedom of expressions.
We note that there are numerous organisations working in this field, and our role will be to highlight persecuted creatives in the Global South, and work with other organisations in seeking their protection.
The elements of the campaign will include:
- Collecting stories of Global South creatives being persecuted, and posting these on as many sites as possible, and informing collegiate organisations globally.
- Independently, or together with collegiate organisations, actively to campaign on behalf of persecuted creatives (individuals and organisations).
- To research and inform members and partners about the manifold ways in which the persecution of artists takes place in the Global South, and the manifold ways in which freedom of creative expression is subverted.
- Independently – or together with collegiate organisations – to submit an annual report on the persecution of Global South artists to regional human rights bodies as well as international bodies, including UNESCO, pointing particularly to the persecution of creatives in countries that are signatories to the 2005 Convention.
- To make available information and resources to inform persecuted creatives about their options.
- Assigning responsibility to an ISC member to coordinate a subcommittee to implement this campaign on behalf of GLOSACI.
FUNDING FOR GLOBAL SOUTH CREATIVE PRACTITIONERS
An initiative of Arterial Network, the African Culture Fund is a transnational and continental fund to support the cultural and creative industries of the African continent.
Art Moves Africa is an international non-profit organisation that seeks to facilitate cultural exchanges and collaborations on the African continent.
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) was established in 2007 through the initiative of Arab cultural activists as an independent foundation to support individual writers, researchers, filmmakers, artists and organisations in the Arab region working in arts and culture. Since 2007, nearly $30 million have been raised with $20 million having been allocated to projects over the last twelve years.
Culture Funding Watch is a site based in Tunisia that offers information and intelligence on funding opportunities for those engaged in the arts and culture sector.
Information about cultural mobility funding.
RESIDENCIES AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES
A network of more than 600 residencies for artists in over 70 countries.
CALENDAR OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS AND COMMERATIVE DATES
22 World Day for Cultural Diversity
25 Africa Day
3-5 Artic Arts Summit, Finland
4-7 UNESCO 2005 Convention, Conference of Parties, Paris
4-8 Cena Aberta, theatre conference, Sao Paulo, Brazil
16-17 European Commission International Colloquium on Culture, Brussels
20 World Refugee Day
22-28 International Symposium on Electronic Art, South Korea
24-28 IETM programme on international cooperation, Elefsina, Greece