Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Harnessing the full power of culture

At last month’s UNESCO gathering, the Hangzhou International Congress, delegates
called for a new approach to sustainable development in the world, one that places culture at the ‘heart of public policy.’  The “Hangzhou Declaration” urges governments, civil society and the private sector to harness the power of culture in addressing development challenges like environmental sustainability, poverty and social inclusion.

As Canada Council Director Robert Sirman addressed delegates at the Culture Days Congress in Toronto, he implicitly referenced  to the objectives of the Hangzhou Declartion, pointing to the growing call for better incorporating culture into public policy.  To achieve that in Canada though, we will need to enlarge our ‘civic footprint’, he suggested.  More Canadians need to live, breath and engage in artistic pursuit and activity to achieve this, the underlying premise of Culture Days.

When queried about the federal government’s perspective on the Hanghzou Declaration, a spokesperson for the Department of Canadian Heritage responded:   “The Government is aware that beyond its economic importance, the arts and the cultural industries are also an important tool to improve quality of life, human development, and create a national identity. This is why Canada was an active proponent to the adoption of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO 2005) and was the first country to ratify the convention.”  They referred specific questions about the Declaration to DFAIT.