Monday, November 10, 2008

Cultural Diversity and Internationalism

I was at the Commonwealth HQ last week, for a long and very involved discussion of the 2005 UNESCO convention on Cultural Diversity. It's a very interesting and useful document - partly because it enshrines cultural rights alongside those other rights which are normally considered more basic, and partly because it serves as a manifesto against cultural imperialism and in favour of intercultural dialogue. The meeting was all about trying to give it some force nationally and internationally. Far more Francophone countries have ratified it than Anglophone ones: the usual story, of course. Oddly enough, the UK has ratified it, which means it is the law of the land.... but Valerie Synmoie, who is Head of Diversity for the Arts Council in London was there, and hadn't heard anything about it! The ratification process actually consists of the document sitting in Parliament for a while, and - if no MP objects to it - it just goes through. What, I wonder, is the use of law if nobody actually realises it's there?

Over the weekend, I saw a film called This is Our Country Too at the British Museum. It's part of the BFM Festival - the work of a fantastic young director called Ishmahil Blagrove Jnr., and his group RiceNPeas. Follow the link, and you'll see how close I find this work to our own in its concerns. This is Our Country Too is a documentary about Australian Aboriginals, and is the fullest account of the contemporary position that I've seen. It manages to be both passionate and balanced - you get Kevin Rudd's apology, and you get images of the poverty-stricken communities.

Penny is in China at the moment, setting up the structures for February. Good news today is that Ruihong will be in the workshop then. And, to add to my happy morning, we've also heard that we have US Embassy funding towards Origins.

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