By Madi S. Njie
As the country reviews QPR reporting for the first time, the past hostile political climate was blamed for the Gambia’s failure to benefit from the International Fund for Cultural Development which other signatories’ to the 2005 UNESCO Convention have been benefiting from.
Hassoum Ceesay, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) disclosed that despite the availability of funds at the ICFD, the Gambia has never benefitted from such funds despite ratifying the Convention that qualifies member countries to benefit.
Ceesay said the Gambia is yet to benefit from the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression funds, because the country has never participated in the Quadrennial Periodic Reporting (QPR) which qualifies countries to benefit from IFCD. Ceesay said the lack of reporting was due to the unfavourable political situation of the country during the past administration.
“The Gambia ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention in 2011, and the first QPR was due in 2015. But this was not possible due to the unfavourable political climate that obtains during the former political dispensation,’’ Ceesay said; that Government has now prioritized arts and the creative industry and has empowered relevant agencies like NCAC to deliver their mandate including UNESCO.
Ceesay who made these remarks on Tuesday October 1st 2019, told participants at a two-day workshop on QPR; that funding constraints confront Gambian artists such as writers who cannot publish their work and that the Gambia is due to submit its QP Report in November 2019 in order to enable the country benefit from FCD funds. He added that the workshop is organized to bring stakeholders from the media, artists and Government among other relevant sectors, to discuss QP reporting which relates to what participants do.
The NCAC DG further blamed the absence of data for the lack of funding and called on all including artists, to present their works. He said Government is duty bound to ensure that they are included in the reporting which will serve as an opportunity for the country to be able to benefit from IFCD funds.
Madam Ojoma Ochai, a UNESCO Expert who serves as Consultant said fourteen of them are helping countries to implement the QPR; that she is helping to look at what the country has done in the past four years since the implementation of the Convention.
Ochai said the 2005 UNESCO Convention supports four goals which are:
a) Support Sustainable Systems of Governance for Culture;
b) Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase the mobility of Artists and Cultural Professionals;
c) Integrate culture for sustainable development framework, and
d) Promote human rights and Freedom of expression.
Ochai who is also member of the British Council, dilated on the IFCD as a unique multi-donor, voluntary fund established under the Convention to foster the emergence of dynamic cultural sectors in developing countries that are party to the Convention.
The UNESCO expert in her presentation explained that the overall objective of the IFCD is to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction through investments in creativity; that the IFCD has become a powerful example of international cooperation and its results show how an investment in creativity cannot only stimulate jobs and increase income, but contributes to improving access to local and regional markets.
“Since its creation, the IFCD has contributed to the development and implementation of cultural policies, building capacity for cultural entrepreneurs, mapping of cultural industries and the creation of new cultural industry business models. Funds are contributed by UNESCO member states, individuals and private sector donors,” she said among others.
Meanwhile other presentation by Staff of the NCAC, UNESCO and MOTIE, reflected on the Review of Cultural and Creative Sectors Form; Digital Environment Form; partnering with civil society; mobility of artists and cultural professionals; the flow of cultural goods and services; treaties and agreements and the IFCD.
Day two of the workshop featured presentation on the National Sustainable Development Policies and Plans; international cooperation for sustainable development; gender equality; artistic freedom; civil society and brainstorming on main challenges in implementing the convention and main solutions.
Other presenters include Sheikh Omar Faye, an NCAC Staff.
Similar event on the QPR was held on the 11th July 2019.