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13.03.2017 - ODG

“Investing in culture is investing in people,” says the Director-General at the Art for Tomorrow Conference in Doha


On 13 March, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the International conference “Art for Tomorrow”, organized by the New York Times in Doha. She called for a greater protection of cultural heritage in the framework of the #unite4heritage global movement powered by UNESCO.

Held a few days after the liberation of the Mosul Museum in Iraq, this Conference was an opportunity to highlight the power of culture for countering violent extremism and to foster dialogue and mutual understanding.

“Protecting heritage is not about stones and monuments. In Mali, when UNESCO rebuilt the mausoleums in Timbuktu, I have seen the power of culture to heal, to bring people together and I had the feeling we were giving identities back to the people,” she declared.

“Extremists know too well the power of heritage to bring people together, and this is why they seek to destroy it. This is not a concern for heritage professionals – it is a peace and security imperative,” she continued.

In a panel discussion with Georgios Kaminis, Mayor of Athens and Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada and founder of the Institute for Canadian citizenship, the Director-General shared evidence of the contribution of culture to long-term development and sustainability of urban development. “Investing in culture is not charity. It is not lost money. It is investing in people, in skills, in the future – as well as in sustainable jobs,” she said giving the example of creative industries that represent some 30 million jobs in the world today, which is more than the global automobile industry.

The Director-General also highlighted the key role of museums and cultural institutions to foster intercultural skills and learn to live together in ever more diverse societies. “Museums are not merely places where our common heritage is preserved – they are key spaces to prepare the future, to foster education for global citizenship.”

The 3-day Conference brought together over 200 world-renowned art and cultural influencers from more than 30 countries, including museum directors, gallerists, curators, auction houses, collectors, entrepreneurs, investors, financial institutions, lawyers, artists, architects, designers, urban planners, government officials and tourism organizations, as well as corporate and civic leaders at Art for Tomorrow. The event examined the role of art as a catalyst for economic growth and development, a mechanism for city or corporate branding, and a unifying force in public life.

While in Qatar, the Director-General met with H.H. the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. She held bilateral working meetings with the Minister of Education H.E. Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi, with Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, to discuss cooperation projects on emergency education notably. She also met with Executive Representatives from Education Above All Foundation, to discuss support for Emergency education programme in Pakistan and Iraq.

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