The creative and cultural industry has played an essential role the world over throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve more support moving forward Culture Recovery, the President of the General Assembly said last week.
“As we deliberate on the role of the creative sectors in supporting and being supported by a recovery from COVID-19, let us ensure that we address the bottlenecks limiting their potential – such as inadequate policy protections and rights for the creative sector workers and business”, Volkan Bozkir told a High-level event commemorating World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Economic boost for Culture Recovery
Among other things, Mr. Bozkir said that culture offers an opportunity to address concerns over the impacts of COVID-19. “Far too often society is blind to the socio-economic contributions of those in the creative and cultural spheres”, he said “This is a mistake. The breadth of this sector alone – covering everything from advertising to architecture, from fashion to film and television – is immense and diverse”.
According to the Assembly President, these sectors account for three per cent of the global economy, generate $2.25 trillion annually and support 30 million jobs worldwide – more than the car industries of Europe, Japan, and the United States combined.
The creative sectors not only enrich our lives but are also the largest employment sectors for young people, he said. “Simply put, culture represents the human journey through the stream of life, and records human experience and expression from all ages and regions of the world”.
Prioritize Culture Recovery
Despite the size, value and influence of the creative sectors, he said, “we still do not reflect this in our policy and fiscal decisions” and they remain “at the back of the queue”, vastly underestimating their overall contributions. Going forward, the Assembly President upheld that these sectors said they should be given the tools to thrive. Also it ensures “comprehensive and up-to-date data” on their contributions toward the SDG’s economic, social and environmental pillars.
“Only in this way can policymakers be fully informed of the benefits and act accordingly”, he stressed.
A designated year
The UN designated 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development to expand the global creative economy’s contributions, break silos and grow partnerships for culture.
The Assembly President said that during the darkest days of the pandemic many found solace and comfort in music, the arts, and reading.
“By limiting these sectors, they limit our societies’ capacities to build back better. Let us unleash these sectors’ creative energies to the betterment of all”, he said, inviting everyone to support the “transformational year”.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chief, Audrey Azoulay, recalled that for more than a year, the COVID-19 crisis has precipitated “a cultural diversity crisis”.
“The closure of museums and world heritage sites and the cancellation of festivals, concerts and ceremonies have plunged the world of culture into a distressing state of uncertainty, threatening in particular independent creators, who are the lifeblood of cultural diversity”, she said.
Also faced with alarming and extended closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s museums are of “fundamental importance” to reviving cultural life and preserving our shared heritage “in all its diversity”. The entire cultural sector has been severely affected by the pandemic, with museums hit particularly hard.
Based on data from 104,000 museums provided by 87 Member States, UNESCO has published a new update on its report from last year, Museums around the world in the face of COVID-19. The newly published report estimates that in 2020, nearly 90 per cent of museums had been closed for an average of 155 days, and since the beginning of 2021, many have had to shut their doors again, due to surging infection rates.
This has resulted in a 70 per cent drop in attendance on average, and a 40 to 60 per cent decline in revenue compared to 2019, the agency reports. “In the midst of the crisis, we must not lose sight of the fundamental importance of ensuring access to culture and conserving our shared heritage in all its diversity”, said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.
She underscored the need for a “New Deal”, in which culture is “a common good” to open horizons and provide societies with connection and meaning. “That is why we must help it to recover, in all its strength and diversity”, Ms. Azoulay said.
Meanwhile, the SDG’s Special Advocate Richard Curtis, told the meeting that, “you can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are – and the arts have been crucial in spreading the Goals far and wide – igniting them in people’s imagination and therefore making them actually apply them in their lives.”
Music helped 89-year old Holocaust survivor Simon Gronowski cope during lockdown. He shared his story on International Jazz Day.
eudebates Culture Recovery and the Culture of Recovery