» “Culture is an engine for recovery.” Jean-Michel Jarre and Deeyah Khan participate in the inaugural ResiliArt ...
15.04.2020 - Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors

“Culture is an engine for recovery.” Jean-Michel Jarre and Deeyah Khan participate in the inaugural ResiliArt Debate

On 15th April 2020, World Art Day, UNESCO and CISAC launched the inaugural ResiliArt Debate with the participation of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors Jean-Michel Jarre and Deeyah Khan.

The ResiliArt movement is a series of global discussions with key artists and cultural professionals, to shine a light on the current state of creative industries amidst this major health crisis caused by the Covid-19. The movement launched by UNESCO and CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, aims to raise awareness about the severe global ramifications of the pandemic across the sector, and support artists during the crisis and beyond. The Covid-19 health crisis has had a devastating impact on the culture sector. Now more than ever the global community look to culture for connection and comfort, but as the livelihoods of our local communities and cultural professions are under threat, we are facing a cultural crisis.

The inaugural debate was moderated by UNESCO Assistant Director General of Culture Ernesto Ottone, and had the participation of two Goodwill Ambassadors: documentary film director and human rights activist Deeyah Khan, and performer, composer and CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre. The discussion was also launched with a range of artists from different sectors, including singer-songwriter and vice president of CISAC Angélique Kidjo, film director, screenwriter, producer and president of INCAA Luis Puenzo, author Yasmina Khadra, and Croatian Minister of Culture and violinist Nina Obuljen-Koržinek.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay opened the discussion, emphasizing that the ResiliArt movement aims to “put questions of culture at the top of the political agenda” both for guidance, and to convey and strengthen the voice of artists and creators.

The distinguished panelists shared their opinions on the effects of the global health crisis on each of their respective arts. According to Deeyah Khan, we are looking to art and culture now more than ever as an escape, “art is what is keeping our sanity, it is keeping our hearts intact as individuals” shared. “We also need to asks ourselves in this crisis what will unite us, what will bring us together, what will connect us to each other again... it’s very important to remind ourselves of why art matters and why it is so desperately crucial, that we don’t allow millions of creators to go into poverty and the entire eco-system that surrounds them.” According to her, the crisis has emphasized the vulnerability of the sector, and the dramatic consequences of culture’s lack of status.

Musician Angélique Kidjo reminded that “as artists we are the storytellers of our time, and we have a responsibility in this sense to support the human rights of everyone.” A concern shared by many was the silencing of forms of expression. “Because in many cultures and governments, the voice of artists can be seen as a threat, the virus is a blessing in these places,” stated Jean-Michel Jarre. “This is another fundamental reason we need to support art from everywhere, in order for artists from these places to be heard and continue to express themselves and their freedoms.”

The debate was a space to be practical about what can be done to adjust to this dramatic situation, and how we can ask governments to support the survival of culture and creators. “Our sector can be an engine for our society’s recovery.” urged Jean-Michel Jarre, “We are not a problem but a resilient solution.” According to him, one of the most vital issues for artists across the industry at this time is copyrights. Internet giants are profiting off the back of this virus, whilst the creators whose content they use receive no renumeration, and are struggling to make ends meet. Jean-Michel Jarre stressed that we use this time to create a new economy for the cultural sector, and have an “adult approach” to the digital world and its relationship with sharing art. Jarre and other members of CISAC proposed for web giants to receive a special tax, to facilitate the fair renumeration of the content they share, helping not only digital art forms, but everyone involved. “Artists existed before electricity, they will exist after the internet, but only if we allow them to survive.” The message echoed throughout the discussion was that culture is what unites us, it is oxygen for our brains and hearts, and keeping it alive through this crisis is a worldwide emergency.

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