Cultural Diversity

Fair Culture

With its “Fair Culture” initiative, the German Commission for UNESCO promotes fair and sustainable exchange and trade relations in the cultural sector worldwide.

Fair Trade principles address poor labour standards and global inequalities. While they have been widely implemented in several economic sectors over the last decades, culture and creative sectors have not been part of the discussion so far. This needs to change. Inequalities are a key challenge for the cultural sector and creative industries, particularly between countries of the Global South and the Global North. Therefore, the German Commission for UNESCO has launched the “Fair Culture” initiative.

Fair Culture – A Key to Sustainable Development

Artists and cultural workers worldwide are faced with major structural inequalities. Artists from the Global South often have no access to international markets, suffer from precarious labour practises, cannot make a living from their work, and are less visible on the global art and culture market, as highlighted in the UNESCO Global Reports 2018 and 2022.

Cultural goods and services are increasingly disseminated in digital networks, transforming value chains. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on artists and the entire cultural value chain, exacerbating inequalities and making the conversation about Fair Culture even more urgent.

of international artists residencies are based in Europe and North-America.

Developed countries still dominate trade in cultural services, accounting for 95 percent of total exports.

Fair Culture: More fairness in the cultural sector

The “Fair Culture” approach should become an integral part of reforms of the cultural sector (“building back better”) and of a future UN Framework for Sustainable Development.

“This debate [about Fair Culture] is an opportunity to talk about a new dynamic that could be injected into cultural cooperation drawing inspiration from a movement that had a really positive effect in other areas of international exchange: the FairTrade-Movement.” - Véronique Guèvremont, author of the study “Fair Culture – A Key to Sustainable Development”

Dr. Keith Nurse, World Trade Organization Chair, Institute University of the West Indies, on Fair Trade in the cultural sector

Video: Fair trade in the cultural sector
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The study “Fair Culture - A Key to Sustainable Development” was published in 2021 on behalf of the German Commission for UNESCO. The baseline study was written by Prof. Dr. Véronique Guèvremont, who holds the UNESCO Chair “Diversity of Cultural Expressions” at the University of Laval in Québec, Canada, and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Inspired by the Fair Trade movement, the “Fair Culture” study is the first to present a comprehensive concept for establishing and promoting fair exchange and trade relations in the cultural sector worldwide. Fair Culture aims to promote the mobility of artists and cultural professionals and to improve international cooperation and solidarity based on a multistakeholder approach. It offers solutions to create new jobs and strengthen the local and regional markets of cultural and creative industries, especially in the Global South.

Publication

Fair Culture - A Key to Sustainable Development.
German Commission for UNESCO, 2021

What happened so far

Experts discussions in Mannheim and Paris

In 2018, the German Commission for UNESCO invited representatives from politics, civil society and the scientific community to the UNESCO Creative City of Music Mannheim for an expert discussion of the initiative “Fair Trade for Culture”. The results of the discussion were presented at the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of the 2005 UNESCO Convention in Paris and discussed by representatives of UNESCO Member States. Here, a particular focus was placed on the connection between the 2005 Convention and the Fair Trade concept.

Talent Footprints

In collaboration with Berlinale Talents, a talent development program of the Berlin International Film Festival and the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Commission for UNESCO organized the workshop Talents Footprints in February 2019, as part of the Berlinale Talents Program. Dr. Keith Nurse presented the concept of Fair Trade for Culture. With the participants he discussed the possibilities and opportunities for shaping a fair and sustainable culture and film industry.

The Frankfurt Book Fair

In partnership with the Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, the German Commission for UNESCO organized an interactive workshop titled “60 Minutes for Fair Culture - How can supply chains in the book industry be made fair and sustainable?” in October of 2019. International experts discussed how the concept of Fair Trade can be transferred to the book market, taking into account the specific conditions of the literature sector. (click here for the summary of the results of the workshop)

Fair Culture at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) 2019

Together with the Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education, the German Commission for UNESCO hosted another networking event in October as part of the Worldwide Music Expo (WOMEX) titled “60 Minutes for Fair Culture - How can supply chains in the music industry be made fair and sustainable?”.

Background

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