On 9, 10 and 18 June 2021, the international webinar “Towards a sustainable cultural and creative industry in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries” brought together online some 30 moderators and panelists and over 450 participants from 75 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the European Union and the rest of the world.
This event, whose interest and attendance fully met expectations, marked the will of the Organisation of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU) to reiterate the importance of the cultural and creative sector for the human and economic development of ACP countries, to highlight its dynamism, its potential for growth but also its resilience, which has been challenged by the global health crisis we have just experienced.
It also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the ACP-EU Culture Programme – the main funding tool set up jointly by the OEACP and the European Union to promote entrepreneurship and strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries in the 79 ACP countries – and its innovative funding mechanisms for the cultural and audiovisual industries.
During the three days, high-level professionals from the world of culture and creation addressed a series of current issues that influence the competitiveness and sustainability of the sector.
Here are the main avenues for reflection and action outlined during the webinar:
- Digital acceleration. The concentration of online and digital services has increased sharply throughout the pandemic and the entire value chain is affected by the introduction of technology. This acceleration has led to major imbalances in global trade that could lead to the exclusion of certain targets. In this respect, any cultural project should include a capacity building dimension for staff in charge of digital technologies, but also for the public, especially the less privileged.
- Thinking about gender mainstreaming through advocacy, research, training and education or allocation of funds, among others, is a question of mindset and determination. Gender must be systematically included in all actions, stereotypes and prejudices must be constantly challenged, and the necessary funds must be allocated to allow better access to cultural facilities for disadvantaged or vulnerable people.
- In terms of unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries, the issue of sustainability of actions was strongly emphasised. The strengthening of the cultural ecosystem must not overshadow the informal sector, which is a source of creativity and wealth. But it must be able to help talents to flourish in their own country, by allowing the creation of a fabric of eco-responsible SMEs, promoting local products and know-how and open to the national and international markets. Public-private diversification of funding is necessary, and international cooperation must position itself as a partner without substituting for local investments.
- Approaching culture in an inclusive way is essential. The concept of inclusion is complex, and needs to be analysed with a critical mind and prudence. Culture is a common, public good, and must now be taken into account in other aspects of human activity, including its links with the environment, health and education. It is strongly linked to the more anthropological notions of community and identity and cannot be reduced to the needs of growth and employability.
- Education in image and culture, especially for young people, is a necessity in order to fight against stereotypes and cultural norms, and to foster the development of citizens capable of analysing the world around them in a critical and independent way. Thus, any strategy based on culture should include youth, and provide for investments in adapted infrastructures, training and a better knowledge of needs through the collection of updated data and information.
- The global pandemic crisis and the negative fallout it has generated in the various sectors of the economy should now be seen as an incentive to do more and better, and to strengthen the cultural and creative ecosystem as a whole. The notions of critical thinking, transversality of culture in its relations with all sectors of activity, inclusion and sustainability, including the consideration of the interactions between culture and the environment, ran through the exciting debates of these three days, and must form the basis for any future progress in this field, as well as a roadmap for the implementation of the ACP-EU Culture Programme.