Cambodia: Creating an environment where cultural industries can thrive
In the last two years, Cambodia has organized two important capacity-building events with stakeholders from its cultural industries. A training session in 2011 focused on the implementation of UNESCO's 2005 Convention. Participants included civil servants from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, representatives from governmental institutions as well as NGOs, artists and intellectuals active in the cultural sector. UNESCO also carried out a seminar in collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in May 2011 in Phnom Penh, which resulted in the elaboration of policies focused on adding culture to Cambodia's development goals.
Aim of the mission
In the wake of those events, a cultural policy document was drafted. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts sought the expertise of Milena Dragicevic-Sesic (Serbia) and Vesna Copic (Slovenia) to help integrate cultural industry development into this policy document, with a particular focus on craftsmanship and the performing arts. The developed policy frameworks aim to overcome the challenges facing Cambodia's cultural industries and to create an environment where they can thrive.
During their first country visit in July and August 2012, the experts carried out an initial assessment of the current situation and trends for the cultural industries in Cambodia. They notably met and consulted ministerial representatives, national experts and international cooperation partners (notably from the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia) in order to fully understand the challenges and opportunities involved. Through these exchanges they notably grouped a large quantity of documents regarding the culture sector in Cambodia, the country's economy and past initiatives carried out by international organisations. The resulting knowledge helped shape the direction and scope to be given to the policy frameworks, where the role played by culture both as a social and economic vector for development needed to be emphasised.
The drafting process initiated ahead of the second country visit in September 2012 was complemented by numerous interactions and exchanges with civil society representatives and cultural operators across the country, as well as further research on the situation of cultural industries in the country. Key stakeholders were concerted throughout this process in order to guarantee that the final draft policy frameworks were locally designed and corresponded to the needs and priorities of the cultural industries in Cambodia.
The resulting policy documents were presented at the end of the second visit during a press conference: 1) a Sub-decree "Empowerment of cultural production and dissemination to enable creative industries development" aimed at raising awareness on the social and economic importance of arts and culture; 2) a Sub-decree "Continuous professional development in arts and culture", aiming to increase the number of artists, cultural managers and consumers, notably through increased educational possibilities; 3) a set of recommendations aimed at further developing key areas of the cultural policy, such as cultural data, copyright issues, and artistic training. Finally, a number of pilot programmes and actions were suggested, ranging from setting up an inter-ministerial committee on media, to launching no-budget cultural actions such as prizes and other recognitions of excellence.
The follow-up mission from 20 October to 3 November enabled the two experts to assist the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia in developing the National Cultural Policy of the Kingdom of Cambodia, in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh. Moreover, the mission contributed to the elaboration and finalization of documents including a sub-decree on the Empowerment of Cultural Production and Dissemination to Facilitate Creative Industries Development; frameworks for the classification of creative industries in Cambodia, for cultural mapping, for the development of an Information and Documentation Centre, and for the development of cultural statistics in Cambodia; as well as the preparation of the school year, as the year of culture in preschool centres, primary and secondary schools. The follow-up mission was also an opportunity to train trainers on cultural policy and cultural management, and enable them to share their knowledge with cultural professionals.