Kabul Photo Biennale "Rebirth" | Bamiyan Cultural Centre under construction ©Abdul Latif Azimi

Thematic Area 7: The Afghanistan Cultural Centres Network

In this thematic area, and in Thematic Area 8, which both involve the creation of networks, UNESCO seeks to bridge the gap that often arises in development work in the field of culture between the policy and project levels.  In the first instance, important policy changes fail to “trickle down” to the local level where they would most benefit communities and local actors. In the second instance, the effects of project level initiatives, which are by nature short or medium term, remain in the local sphere and fail to reach policy level where the experience gained and the lessons learned could be consolidated, and put to good use.

By networking, by opening channels of information across local centres and across centre and periphery, and by raising the level of information on local project initiatives throughout the network, these individual initiatives will consolidate one another, provide sustainability to the whole, and increase the possibility of influencing or making policy.

Historically, given its situation astride transnational trade routes and as a crucible of cultures, Afghanistan derived its prosperity from a series of cultural and commercial networks. After almost four decades of war and the development of centrifugal forces in the country, these networks lie in tatters. The need to re-establish trade and information sharing networks is highlighted in Section 5.5.e of the ANPDF.  The cultural and creative industries, as providers of growth and revenues, must participate in that movement.

This thematic area pursues the development of cultural centres across the country whose purpose would be to serve as creative hubs for artists, intellectuals, teachers and creators, with a view to exchanging new ideas and visions.  Through networking, potentially and eventually, these hubs will support regional think tanks, innovative platforms and become the support for travelling exhibitions, for regional, national or cross-border festivals, exchanges of artefacts between museums.

The cultural centres network also contributes, at community and national levels, to discussions on identity and the value of cultural diversity in all its local, national and international forms of expression. The discussion process may lead to the creation of a platform for a clearer understanding of a nation’s origins and what it aspires to achieve in the future. The purpose of such a process would be to re-establish models for weaving back together the threads of civic society and intangible culture.  

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