Mexican city plays supporting role to Convention

Contemporary expression like this will benefit from efforts like that of the Toluca City Hall and the U40 network, which promoted the 2005 Convention in Mexico recently © Luanda Smith

Mexico is buzzing with creativity. And nowhere is this more evident than its art scene, with edgy artists mushrooming across the incredibly diverse country. Innovation and research in art are common and the economic potential is increasingly recognised with cultural industries representing today 6.7% of its GDP. If Mexico is to expand this sector, making UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions work for the country is a critical step.

Mexico’s Toluca City Hall joined forces with a network of cultural professionals under the age of 40, known as the U40. Together, they organized the country’s first-ever series of meetings to promote and debate UNESCO’s 2005 Convention. The lively events triggered an impressive array of follow-up actions around the country.

Open to the public, the event drew 650 people from nine Mexican regions and 14 countries. Through workshops, artistic activities, presentations and much debating, the event helped participants to understand the content and objectives of the Convention as well as the role that different stakeholders play in it. This event involved Mexican cultural professionals, politicians, civil society, representatives from indigenous groups and the public.

Participants shared their best practices and challenges at the local level. JP Sauvé, a U40 Americas participant, said: “With a focus on local policies supporting the diversity of cultural expressions, the official presentations enabled participants to understand how the 2005 Convention objectives are incorporated into local governmental action in Mexico, whether it be at the state or city level.”

The event reaped many results: the city of Los Reyes adopted a law supporting cultural development and, as a guide for future action, participants produced practical proposals to meet local needs and strengths. A new database of national cultural organizations, which now facilitates networking and collaboration, was developed and a Mexico-wide U40 network was also set-up.

Mexican cultural professional Luanda Smith said the event helped her to better understand cultural policies and easily share them with her peers and even decision makers. She was among the participants to create the non-governmental organization ‘Glocal Creativity and Cultural Association’. They have begun working with the University of Veracruz, the largest university in eastern Mexico. “Nowadays we have lectures about the Convention and we are conducting a statistical study aimed at identifying cultural perceptions among the university community – about 15,000 people,” she said.

The organization has also designed the International Cultural Cooperation Section at the Veracruz Cultural Institute, with the aim of promoting the diversity of cultural expressions and helping artists reach out to peers worldwide.

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