November 2003 -

In October the International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD) held a conference in Croatia. How does the INCD work to protect culture? And what role do European countries play in this network?

During the conference about Culture and Development in 1998 Unesco concluded that globalisation undermines local and traditional cultures. According to the recommendation, in order to turn the tide cultural groups must join forces. The minister of Canadian Legacy organised an international meeting of ministers of culture, at which the International Network of Cultural Policy (INCP) was established.

Parallel to this, the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) and the Swedish Joint Committee of Literary and Artistic Professionals (KLYS) organised their own meeting. The International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD), which was officially set up in 2000, resulted from this initiative. It was set up in the form of a member organisation with a democratically selected steering committee. In the meantime the INCD has grown to include five hundred cultural organisations from seventy countries.

The foremost objective of the INCD is to protect culture world-wide against the consequences of globalisation. The network is working specifically to develop a legal instrument with which countries in a free market can protect their cultural lives against the eroding influence of Western mass culture. It is also trying to convince the trade organisations of the importance of cultural diversity.

The INCD lobbies, conducts research, supports numerous projects and organises conferences. The most recent conference, held this month in Croatia, was organised in collaboration with Culturelink. This group is sponsored in part by Unesco, headquartered in Croatia, which helps cultural networks communicate with one another. Culturelink participates in the steering committee of the INCD and is committed to having European countries play a larger role in this network. Up to now the organisation has depended strongly on the Canadian Ministry of Culture for support.

This was the reason the Dutch organisation European Cultural Foundation (ECF) is supporting the conference financially. Vanessa Reed, who works to attract subsidies for ECF, hopes that Central and Eastern Europe will also want to be involved and will participate in the INCD. The link between the meeting of the INCP policy club and INCD's 'citizen movement' is closely aligned with ECF's objective to serve as a link between policy makers and the independent cultural field.