At this end of the year, it is time for records and wishes. In terms of support to culture and creation, 2019 was a year of great achievements. The launch of the new ACP-EU Culture program will allow us to continue and strengthen the fruitful partnership in this field between the ACP Secretariat and the European Union. The new orientations of this program have been endorsed and enriched by the consultations, debates and decisions resulting from the 5th Meeting of Ministers of ACP Culture held last October in Niamey (Niger) and the 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government which has just concluded in Nairobi (Kenya). They open up stimulating opportunities within the framework of a new ACP-EU agreement, placing culture at the heart of the ACP countries’ economic and social development strategies.
The coming year 2020 will be a pivotal period in the redeployment of the cooperation between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States in the field of culture. The Declarations of Niamey and Nairobi illustrate the clear will of the ACP States to promote culture as a catalyst for development, and to ensure its further contribution in improving the quality of life and wellbeing of the populations. But they also provide us with a road map and a mandate to translate this vision into concrete actions at the national, regional and international levels. The aim is to boost cultural industries by all means and to train, qualify, professionalize and improve the material conditions of artists, creators and cultural operators so that they can fully assume their role as actors of sustainable and inclusive growth, building on the immense potential for innovation and creativity of the ACP countries.
The ACP-EU CULTURE program is one of the answers to these challenges. Its three calls for proposals, totaling EUR 36 million, will support, through an annual sub-granting mechanism, many innovative projects in all fields of culture and creation, paying particular attention to the socio-economic impact on ACP artists and cultural operators. However, the program will also implement other tools to support networking, exchange of experiences and entrepreneurship in the cultural sector – such as the online platform culturexchange.eu – and will multiply initiatives to communicate its results and promote the cultural and creative industries in all ACP regions. It will also seek to strengthen partnerships and synergies with actors in the public and private cultural sectors, and pool its actions with those of other programs supporting culture in ACP countries and funded by the European Union, such as CreatiFI, Transcultura and PALOP-TL.
It is within this very promising context that I am pleased to convey to all those who are working for a better integration of culture and creativity in the harmonious development of our societies my warmest wishes for a fruitful and constructive year 2020.