MESSAGE BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL KNATCOM, ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD DAY FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY

MESSAGE BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL KNATCOM, ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD DAY FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY

This year we mark the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development at a time when cultural diversity the common heritage of humanity is under threat from the impact of COVID-19. The impact of current confinement on the cultural sector is being felt around the world affecting the fundamental right of access to culture, the social rights of artists and creative professionals, and the protection of a diversity of cultural expressions. Lock down measures around the world have had cultural events cancelled, cultural institutions closed, community cultural practices suspended, empty UNESCO 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.
While the sector struggles to survive during this time of mass confinement, billions of people are turning to culture as a source of comfort, well-being and connection. There has been a surge in the creation of, and access to, cultural content online – from virtual visits to museums and galleries, streaming of films and even community choirs via social media – showing its fundamental role as a source of resilience for communities. This renaissance of culture and explosion of new forms of creativity though is unavailable to millions of artists and creators at community levels especially in most African countries where millions of livelihoods have been completely shattered due to the digital divide. The situation has seen widening of gender inequalities amongst women creators at community and grassroots level who have no access to internet or smart phones. In Kenya for example thousands of women making crafts, jewelry fashion, basketry and pottery have seen their small scale businesses closed and have no source of income to support their families.
Recognizing the challenges and risks brought about by COVID-19 UNESCO on 15th April 2020 on world art day launched a global movement consisting of a series of virtual debates with key industry players to support member states to develop polices and mechanisms to cushion the creative sector and communities to overcome the current crisis. In Kenya particularly due to confinement measures the country has in the past few months witnessed loss of millions of livelihoods among artists and women creators at communities from closure of entertainment spaces, art markets and disruption of tourism activities. The situation calls for urgent interventions and measures to save the sector from collapse as well as devising road to recovery.
The Kenya National Commission for UNESCO being the focal point of all UNESCO matters in Kenya has continued to be at the forefront in dissemination of the UNESCO ResiliArt Movement at National level with a view to raise awareness about the impact of COVID-19 the culture sector. KNATCOM through various social media has continued to sensitize artists and culture professionals to have their voices heard in culture policy making processes. We take note that UNESCO ResiliArt movement is gaining momentum in Kenya where several virtual debates by government and CSO’s have taken place since the launch by UNESCO and we hope this will go on in the next couple of months and that these discussions will contribute to decision making processes and inclusive cultural policies.
The Kenya government in response to the crisis through the Ministry of Sports Culture And Heritage launched a 100Million Artists stimulus programme to cushion the sector that can be accessed on http://sportsheritage.go.ke/call-forproposals-on-100m-artists-stimulus-programme/
To celebrate this international World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development KNATCOM is partnering with the Nairobi UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa among other partners in webinar discussion on a ResiliArt see below poster. We encourage stakeholder to register and join the ResiliArt Kenya discussion 21 may 2020 Thursday. It can also be viewed online https://mailchi.mp/alliancefrnairobi.org/invitation-5387053?e=bcefe55bc8
KNATCOM will continue to partner and support stakeholder in these virtual debates towards development of policies aimed at improving the socio economic status of artists and women cultural creators. Further, to complement the government in the initiatives to cushion the creative and cultural sector KNATCOM will implement activities to support a few artists from Nairobi vulnerable urban environments to create content to educate communities on COVID -19.

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