By Madi S. Njie

As The Gambia reviews for first time QPR reporting, the  past hostile political climate is blamed for The Gambia’s failure to benefit from the International Funds for Cultural Development, which other signatories’ to the 2005 UNESCO Convention has been benefiting from.

Mr Hassoum Ceesay, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) disclosed that despite the availability of funds at the ICFD, The Gambia has never benefitted from such funds, despite ratifying the 2005 UNESCO Convention that qualifies member countries to benefit.

Mr Ceesay said The Gambia is yet benefit from The UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions funds because the country has never participated in the Quadrennial Periodic Reporting (QPR), which qualifies countries to benefit from IFCD.

Mr Ceesay said the lack of reporting was due to the unfavourable political situation of the country.

“The Gambia ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention in 2011, and the first QPR was due in 2015, but was not possible due to unfavourable political climate.

The Government is now prioritise arts and creative industries and empowered relevant agencies like NCAC to deliver their mandate, including on the 2005 UNESCO Convention,” said Mr Ceesay.

Mr Ceesay made these remarks on Tuesday, 1 October 2019, while welcoming participants at a two days workshop on the QPR held at the Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) in Kanifing, which ended on Wednesday.

He said this also happened in the face of funding constraints confronting Gambian artists, as some writers write their manuscripts and can’t publish them due to lack of funding.

He added that The Gambia is due to submit its Quadrennial Periodic Report in November 2019, in order to enable the country benefit from the IFCD funds. Adding that the workshop is organise, bringing stakeholders from the media, artists, government, among relevant sectors to discuss the QPR reporting, which is relating to what participants are doing, and concerns them.

The NCAC DG further blamed the absence of data for the lack of funding, and therefore called on all, including artists to present their works, and that Government is duty bound to ensure that they are included in the reporting, which will serve as opportunity for The Gambia to benefit from the IFCD funds.

Madam Ojoma Ochai- UNESCO Expert who is serving as Consultant, from Nigeria for her part said 14 of them they are helping countries to implement the QPR, noting that she is helping to look at what The Gambia has done in the past four years of implementation of the Convention.

Madam Ochai said the 2005 UNESCO Convention support 4 Goals, namely to: ‘Support Sustainable Systems of Governance for Culture; Achieve a balanced flow of Cultural goods and services and increase the mobility of Artists and Cultural Profe; Integrated culture in sustainable development framework; and Promote human rights and Freedom of expression.

Ochai who is also member of the British Council also presented on the IFCD- “a unique multi-donor, voluntary fund established under the Convention that fosters the emergence of dynamic cultural sectors in developing countries that are Parties to the Convention.”

The UNESCO Expert in her presentation explained that the overall objective the IFCD is to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction through investments in creativity.

Madam Ojoma’s further highlighted that: “with countries from the global North and global South working together, the IFCD has become a powerful example of international cooperation and its results show how an investment in creativity can not only stimulate jobs and increase income but also contribute to improving access to local and regional markets.

“Since its creation, the IFCD has contributed to the development and implementation of cultural policies, to capacity building for cultural entrepreneurs, mapping of cultural industries and the creation of new cultural industry business models. Funds are contributed by UNESCO Member States, individuals and private sector donors,” she among others stated.

Meanwhile other presentations by Staff of NCAC, UNESCO and MOTIE reflected the Review of Cultural and Creative Sectors Form; Digital Environment Form; Partnering with civil society; mobility of artists and cultural professionals; flow of cultural goods and services; Treaties and agreements; and the IFCD.

Day two of the workshop featured presentation on the National sustainable development policies and plans; International cooperation for sustainable development; Gender equality; Artistic Freedom; civil society; and brainstorming on main challenges in implementing the convention and main solutions.

Other presenters included Sheikh Omar Faye, NCAC Staff.

Similar event on the QPR was held on 11 July 2019.

Ends

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