The arts are not always in a prominent place on the political agenda in Africa, Latin-America and Asia. Nevertheless, an increasing number of governments recognise the importance of culture in itself and in connection to social and economic development.
The large-scale process intended to result in a new culture policy as well as the establishment of a Ministry for Culture has not yet been completed in Peru. The country's first national congress on culture policy was held in Lima early in December 2008. A second national congress is planned in 2009 along with two regional conferences in the northern and middle parts of the country. The closing document compiled during the first national conference is being discussed by parliament. It is to serve as the basis for the future Ministry for Culture.
"The cultural sector in Peru is highly fragmented now", says Jorge Delgado, coordinator of the Perú Cultura y Desarrollo 2008 project. The project's home base is the Instituto Nacional de Cultura and it is subsidised by the Spanish development organisation AESID. "Culture is scarcely organised. It does not really exist as a sector." The conference was also a meeting place for all of Peru's cultural institutions. Effort was devoted to stimulating networking. Attention was also given to the economic potential of culture and the role it plays as a binding factor between Peruvians.
The policy formulation has consisted of three stages to date. Working groups totalling more than one hundred experts have been discussing eight sub-themes varying from cultural heritage and music to 'living cultures' and audio-visual art forms since April 2008. These working groups formulated their vision on Peru's 'cultural future' and compiled proposals for concrete measures. The resulting documents were presented to the general public in Lima, Chiclayo, Tacna, Tarapoto and Huancayo in October and November 2008. Anyone with something to add was welcomed in the discussions. The contributions were then shaped into a proposal document that served as a guideline for the debates during the national conference.