On behalf of the IFCCD President, Beat Santschi and Nathalie Guay, we sincerely hope that this message finds its way to many in good health!
All over the world people’s daily lives have changed dramatically during the last weeks and days and so has the colorful landscape of the diversity of cultural expressions we have known until recently. In many countries not only freedom of movement is restricted, but all cultural venues are closed, film production is at a standstill, concerts and plays can only be enjoyed over the internet, if at all. And everywhere artists, creators and cultural workers were among the first to suffer from economical distress because we are no longer allowed to create and perform as we used to. This puts enormous pressure not only on professional organizations in the cultural field, but also on the zillions of cultural associations which in many countries are at the base of the cultural life of people.
Our duty as protectors and promoters of the diversity of cultural expressions will be to do everything possible and to lobby governments to make sure that our precious cultural diversity can be saved over to the post-crisis period. We all know how easy it is to close down an orchestra, a theatre or dance company, a film production company etc., but how much long and hard work it takes to (re-)build them. In some countries governments have announced enormous packages to save the economy, but not always do they include or find the right measures for the needs of the creative industries, and even less for the artists and performers – often self-employed. Here professional organizations can help, both directly and by lobbying for public and/or private help (funds).
The IFCCD secretariat remains functional, with both Nathalie and Céline working from home. They are now finalizing materials on cultural exemptions within trade agreements and the last congress videos. This year’s major project was supposed to take the form of a series of gatherings in Latin America. Obviously, they will need to rethink this and be creative about what we can do in the current context to develop our action and our network in this region.
I invite you to send information on the situation in your respective countries and the support that your governments are giving, or not, to the cultural sector, actions that you or other civil society organizations have taken, proposals, etc. Our friends at the UCLG have put together a very interesting resource page. IFCCD are in communication with them and other international association to share on our current situation and eventually engage in common initiatives. We at the UKCCD will keep you informed of any development from IFCCD in this regard.
In times with omnipresent border closures and immigration restrictions, we are called to solidarity not only with all artists in our own countries but also with those in the rest of the world, and we should do everything in our power to re-establish and improve the free movement of artists and cultural goods and services, as well as the free flow of expressions and ideas, when the actual crisis will be over. That is why emergency powers or surveillance technologies that are being implemented in many countries need to be monitored.
The virus will be beaten, but in order to remedy its broad implications, all of us will be needed. Essentially, the diversity of cultural expressions is within us, in our brains, guts and soul, and there we need to nurse and cultivate it, even if we can’t express it to the outside world for a while. That is why we have to take care to stay physically and psychologically healthy during potentially long weeks of lockdown.
Very best wishes to all of you, stay healthy!