The importance of supporting art and culture

September 2005 -

Early in June, the Hivos Culture Fund organised the event Beyond Diversity: Moving towards MDG no. 9. The sense and nonsense of making culture the ninth millennium goal were reviewed during workshops and discussions. The topic was primarily used to discuss the importance of supporting art and culture. The tangible results of these discussions are eight reasons for supporting art and culture in developing countries, as follows.

1. People need as much light as darkness. The more they suffer violence and poverty, the more art they will practice and the more support they should receive.

2. In times of war and poverty, in the absence of the most basic human needs, people create. Sarajevo art flowered during the siege. Vietnamese soldiers wrote and drew on the wall of the tunnels - in times of darkness, people create light.

3. When cultural life is vibrant, the brain drain is reduced: intelligent young people stay inside their society, migration to the rich world goes down.

4. Arts and culture are the main force against stagnation of society.

5. Culture is now a major source of income. Culture is the main export product of the USA. Music, movies and software from the US flood the world. Supporting cultural production in developing countries creates an economic counterforce and protects local income.

6. Those without power are supported and given voice by men and women coming from the arts and culture sector. Once dictatorial or repressive powers are toppled, these men and women often take over responsibility.

7. The definition of what development is always comes from the cultural world.

8. Political projects fail if the cultural component is neglected - as the fate of the European constitution proves.

The report of Beyond Diversity can be found on the website of Hivos.