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Celebrating Senegal's Creativity with Renewed Commitment to the 2005 Convention


For Senegalese hip hop artist, Moona Yanni, the world of creativity and music in particular, is a vehicle which allows artists to express themselves and represent the society they are living in. ''In both [the world of music and the rest of the world] we find the same diversity and concerns related to improving people's lives. That's why it's important to have support dedicated to creativity and cultural politics and supporting women is key because societies cannot develop without them,'' she said. Read full story:

As a key member of the national team on creative issues, established by Senegal's Ministry of Culture together with UNESCO, Moona Yanni has been vocal on making sure women have a voice in remodeling the country's cultural policy.

The hip hop artist along with 29 other representatives from the Ministries of Culture and Commerce, civil society, the arts, film and performance, engaged in a grass roots debate in Dakar in March to discuss progress made in cultural policy making in line with the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

The group of 30 representatives were also coached on creating the country's first periodic report - necessary to document Senegal's successes and challenges in promoting the diversity of cultural expressions. The training took part under the Swedish funded project, 'Enhancing Fundamental Freedoms through the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions'.

Senegal, one of the first countries to sign up to the 2005 Convention, strengthened and renewed its commitment by issuing a special decree during the workshop - declaring the group of 30 people as an official entity. They will be responsible for dealing with business related to the Convention with half of them specially dedicated to the periodic reporting exercise.

''Whether it is about promoting the creative industries as a strategic driver of economic growth, or the participation in international cooperation projects at the national and local levels - through projects such as the Millennium Development Goal Fund on Culture - or the 2008 law on copyright or the mutual health-insurance for artists, currently being adopted at the national level through a concertation process, Senegal is concretely already implementing the 2005 Convention on a daily basis,'' Valeria Marcolin, International Expert said.

Senegal boasts an active civil society representing its creative industries - which has carved success in contributing towards the country's economy through events like Africa fête, a large scale music festival which promotes artists. In the past the event has generated some 3,000 jobs, held 34 concerts with 50 artist groups and 500 musicians performing in front of an audience of more than 20,000 people.

''To have a meaningful contribution in the global economy, Senegal must also rely on one of its largest assets - that is the creativity of its predominantly young population," said Oumar Sall, Executive Secretary of ADAFEST/Arterial Network in Senegal, an association which promotes artists and festivals.

Celebrating its vibrant creative scene, Senegal exported US$ 2.15 million worth of cultural goods in 2013 (Unesco Institute for Statistics) with the country's music making international headlines and musicians such as Youssou N'Dour breaking into global markets. Out of almost half a million people employed in creative industries, most are in the visual arts and crafts (80.5%) and a smaller number in cultural and natural heritage (4.9%), according to Government statistics. In Senegal, the breadth of creativity continues to grow and new talent is being nurtured in design and digital arts. However, there is still work to be done on building better structures for some clusters of creativity.

Government officials at the workshop in Dakar dubbed it as the first step in setting up an official channel for long lasting dialogue between them and creative professionals to develop cultural policies reflecting their needs and build stronger industries.

"We understand that ten years after the adoption [of the 2005 Convention] the writing and the transmission of the quadrennial report can help us make an operational assessment of our action/progress concerning the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. The capacity building workshops allowed the team that will write the report to have all the tools necessary to undertake the writing of Senegal's first report," Abdoulaye Koundoul, Director of Arts-City Keur Goorgui, Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The Dakar discussions between the two international experts commissioned by UNESCO for the training, Valeria Marcolin and Luc Mayitoukou and the official core drafting group also revealed new challenges: ''Through this reporting exercise areas not yet covered by policies and measures that would strengthen the diversity of cultural expressions in Senegal, were also identified. For example, fashion and design were highlighted as sectors not yet identified as creative ones with specific potential and needs. These challenges may become a road map for the future implementation of the Convention,'' Valeria Marcolin noted.

Addressing some of the imbalances countrywide, representatives from 14 Regional Cultural Centres (RACs) in Senegal also took part in the workshop. They were provided with relevant 2005 Convention documentation to distribute in their regions to help spread the word and empower relevant authorities and civil outside of the capital city with knowledge.

The contents of periodic reports will also serve as a basis for the next Global Report tracking implementation of the 2005 Convention and will be published by UNESCO by December 2017.

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