Press Release - An ambitious hemispheric agenda for culture, unveiled by the Organization of American States (OAS), will feature such efforts as a special meeting of the Central American Ministers of Culture that will examine effective culture and arts programs from around the Americas that help young people resist the allure of gangs. That meeting is slated to take place February 27-28 in El Salvador, and will be inaugurated by that country’s President, Antonio Saca.
Other initiatives announced by the Inter-American Committee on Culture (CIC) include an international symposium on cultural diversity, which will be hosted by Brazil this summer with a view to exploring the connection between globalization and culture as well as the effect of the digital revolution on cultural relations between countries. Next month the CIC will also launch a series of subregional workshops on combating illicit trafficking and looting of cultural objects. Those workshops will draw participants from among culture officials, managers of archeological sites and museums, and representatives of law-enforcement institutions such as Interpol.
Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, addressing a forum at the OAS Art Museum of the Americas Friday evening, highlighted how the OAS would take the results of the Third Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities—held last November in Montreal, Canada—to continue developing policies that promote the hemisphere’s rich cultural heritage and serve as a vehicle for strengthening integration.
For his part, Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin, who represented the OAS at the Montreal meeting, proposed in closing remarks that member states could consider creative arrangements such as seconding cultural experts to the OAS for one or two years, to help reinforce the CIC work program. He also suggested partnerships with the private sector and praised the work of the Art Museum of the Americas in showcasing and promoting the hemisphere’s culture.
CIC Chair Andre Frenette appealed for the support of member states to ensure the success of the planned initiatives. “CIC activities will support the development of sound public policies, strong public institutions and human capacity, and increased dialogue and cooperation between cultural policy experts of the hemisphere,” he explained. Reviewing the Montreal meeting, Frenette said the engaged participation of the member states confirmed the importance of culture to the Americas and to the OAS. He noted that the impact of culture is evident in national economies, where cultural and creative industries account for an average 7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and underscored how culture contributes to the promotion of sustainable development as well as respect for diversity.
“Culture, like education, provides unparalleled opportunities in international relations, to build bridges and enhance mutual understanding among peoples,” said Lenore Yaffee Garcia, Director of the OAS Department of Education and Culture. “As such,” she added, “it is at the heart of what the OAS stands for.” Garcia noted that the CIC was also seeking to forge closer working relationships between government ministries responsible for culture and finance, as well as the international financial community, through such forums as an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) seminar on social inclusion to be held in mid-March, as part of the IDB Board of Governors meeting in Guatemala.
Ambassador Manuel María Cáceres, who chairs the ambassadorial “group of friends” of the OAS Art Museum, reiterated the importance of preserving the rich cultural diversity represented by all the peoples of the Americas. He also urged support to tackle the challenge of making the OAS Art Museum better known.
Ambassador Osmar Chohfi, Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, stressed the timeliness of closer hemispheric cooperation in the area of culture, and spoke about the need to find the necessary human and financial resources for selected projects. He discussed culture as an important element of citizenship, development and prosperity, and social cohesion that contributes to the strengthening of democracy.
In welcoming the guests to the Art Museum, Curator of Collections Maria Leyva noted that given its inherent mission to preserve cultural memory and promote the hemisphere’s rich cultural diversity, it was a fitting venue for the event to report the outcomes of the Montreal ministerial meeting.
Jean Ricot Dormeus, an advisor to the Assistant Secretary General, moderated the evening’s program, which concluded with special merengue dance performances organized by the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the OAS.