4th World Summit on Arts and Culture, International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA) (September 21-24, 2009, Johannesburg, South Africa)

The 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture, organized by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA) (September 21-24, 2009, Johannesburg, South Africa) held three days of talks and workshops among representatives of national arts councils (arms-length state-funded institutions funding the arts), Ministries of Culture, and representatives of civil society from around the globe. The topics discussed varied widely but most focused on the practical implementation of UNESCO’s Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. While these discussion focused mainly on money-making creative industries, the International Council for Cultural Centers stood up for the importance of having community centers for collective creativity, which offered another way of enhancing “cultural diversity”, simply not in necessarily market cultural products but products for more local and sometimes free consumption. I3C argues that such community arts structures are the direct response to the Convention’s urge for “community participation” in crafting approaches to co-existence and respect for diversity.

Representing I3C and thus the voice of community arts (actually, one of few organizations at the Summit focusing on community arts), Nadezhda Savova argued that rather than “creative industries,” we should talk about “creative communities,” which could include both professionals in profit-making cultural industries and community-based organizations and in particular community cultural centers, which best provide the physical spaces where inter-cultural dialogue and creativity can actually take place. The “where” of inter-cultural “doing” brings diverse groups to one neutral, home-like space around engaging and entertaining artistic activities (from diverse traditional to modern arts) rather than simply “dialoguing”, which, indeed, would often end in conflicts over difference. The meetings and the discussions at the Summit enabled I3C to find and invite to join the Council a few new national networks and associations of center and key cultural organizations on different continents.