Brussels, 15 October 2012/ ACP: Senior officials from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) in charge of cultural matters are rallying in Brussels for two days this week in the lead up to the 3rd ACP Ministers of Cultures meeting on 17 and 18 October.

The aim of the ministerial meeting is to take stock of the implementation of recommendations from previous conferences in Dakar, Senegal in 2003 and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2006.

The meeting also aims to highlight the potential of cultural industries to boost socio-economic development in ACP countries, sharing success stories from various regions.

At today’s meeting, ACP delegates urged better networking and information sharing amongst member states, including regional meetings to engage local actors and better prepare for ministerial talks.

At the same time, bureaucratic challenges in gaining funds from government budgets and development partners were highlighted for solutions.

“We need to quantify culture into monetary values and statistics, whether we like it or not. We need to speak the language of our finance departments before we get that support. If not, we are just talking dreams,” stated the official from the Cook Islands. He shared his country’s practice of using the national census to collect valuable data that could be used to support cultural programmes and proposals.

The representative from Cote d’Ivoire also pushed for colleagues to find ways to specify the value that culture brings in terms of economic impact. He called for cultural observatories to be set up in each ACP country or region to monitor economic impacts of the cultural sector. In support, the Dominica delegation proposed that an inventory of best practices be compiled and shared amongst ACP networks, giving as an example the successful establishment of the “Creole” brand in his home country.

Meanwhile, the Namibia delegation encouraged ministers and national authorities to place more importance on cultural regional meetings.

Discussions amongst senior officials will continue until tomorrow (Tuesday), reviewing the outcomes of ACP-EU support programmes for cultural sectors funded under the European Development Fund (EDF) namely ACPFilms, ACPCultures, and ACPCultures+. Participants will also hear from partners such as the European Commission (EC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Organisation de la Francophonie (OIF). A group report will be presented to ACP ministers of culture on 17 to 18 October.

The Ministers then intend to draft a document, called the Brussels Resolution, as a basis for an operational approach to enhance the involvement of the cultural sector in development policies.

“The ACP Group is now preparing for the next Heads of State Summit in Malabo and the [cultural] ministers’ report will be submitted to the ACP Council and recommendations will be then submitted to the Heads of State and Government,” said ACP Assistant Secretary General in charge of Political Affairs and Human Development Mme Michele Dominique Raymond.

She pointed to the success of various cultural projects so far financed by the ACP-EU support programmes, such as the production of award winning films A Screaming Man(produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Viva Riva (from Chad).

Mme Raymond noted the increase of financial resources dedicated from the European Development Fund to cultural projects, which grew from EUR 14 million under the 9th EDF to 30 million under the 10th EDF. She renewed the ACP Secretariat’s commitment to supporting for the cultural sector in ACP countries.

(Photos: From top, the Director of Culture for CamerounMrs Mardhe Darisca Medou (in purple) chairing the Meeting for ACP Senior Officials in Charge of Cultural Matters along with Assistant Secretary General Mme Michele Dominique Raymond and Head of Unit at the EuropeanCommission's DG DEVCO Mr Denis Salord; participants in the meeting from ACP regions)

– ACP Press