In recent years, Mali has experienced increasing security incidents that jeopardized the ongoing peace process and social cohesion. The country has stressed the role of culture in peace building and reconciliation to offset these insecurities. The safeguarding and protection of heritage, in particular, has been at the heart of the Malian cultural policy, providing a tangible response to destructions and damages sustained by attacks during conflicts. Nonetheless, the domestic creative and cultural industries sector has continued to develop through festivals, biennales, and civil society initiatives, as well as support mechanisms for audio-visual sector and photography.
With a view to further professionalize the country’s growing creative and cultural industries (CCIs), the country is turning its attention to the reinforcement of legislative framework and development of public policies. The Cultural Policy Framework Document, published in 2013, lists three strategic priorities: work conditions of cultural professionals, structural reinforcement of creative and cultural industries, and reinforcement of the place and role of culture in all relevant policies. The Document reaffirmed Mali’s commitment to establish creativity as a pillar of development, and to accelerate their support for artists and creative workers. The adoption of a 2016 decree on the status of artists which recognizes the principle of artistic freedom is a manifestation of the country’s pledge.
The UNESCO/SIDA project on the participatory monitoring of cultural policies presents an opportunity to create a space for dialogue between government actors and arts, cultural and media professionals. Through a collaborative process, the project aims to improve the structure of the CCIs, paving the way for diverse artistic expressions and greater access to local contents. This will also mark Mali’s first submission of a periodic report, which details the country’s progress on the implementation of the 2005 Convention.
On 17 June 2019, 2018 Global Report “Re-Shaping Cultural Policies” was launched in Bamako. The event was an occasion for over 60 cultural professionals to come together in the spirit of furthering the Malian cultural and creative industries (CCIs). The exchange session during the event revealed that many of the participants, despite representing diverse artistic disciplines and organizations, experience similar obstacles including lack of available funds and training opportunities. Capturing inputs from cultural actors, such as the concerns expressed by the attendees, is the central component of the four-year project Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Mali. Through improving monitoring and data collection mechanisms on creative sector, the project ensures that future policies address current, pressing challenges faced by creators and cultural professionals on the ground.
N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, the Minister of Culture, reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to give tenacious support to state and civil society actors, ading that arts and culture “occupy a central role within the national strategy towards sustainable development.”
She also hailed the 2018 Global Report “Re-Shaping Cultural Policies” as a game-changing publication that serves as “an orientation device, a reference document and an advocacy tool.” This UNESCO flagship publication draws on Quadrennial Periodic Reports, submitted by ratifying countries of the 2005 Convention, to identify global trends and innovative practices. A multi-stakeholder national team, consisting of public sector and civil society members, was introduced during the event as the main lead on Mali’s first report due in 2020.
A national capacity-building workshop was held in Bamako, Mali, from 21 to 25 October 2019 for the national team responsible for preparing Mali’s first report on the implementation of the Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005). Led by désiré Ouédraogo, a member of the UNESCO Expert Facility, and Fallo Baba Keita, a national consultant, the workshop allowed participants to familiarize themselves with the 2005 Convention and the process of implementing the SIDA II project and to discuss the production of cultural statistics and political priorities for the promotion of cultural and creative industries (CCI) in Mali. Alternating theoretical sessions, practical sessions and group work, the national team identified measures and policies under each of the 4 goals of the Convention’s monitoring framework.
The debates focused on several themes, including the contribution of the media to the production and dissemination of cultural content, the role of mediators in promoting CCIs, and the division of competences between civil society, government and other actors for a more effective and transparent governance of culture. The status of the artist, and in particular social protection, as well as the weakness of measures to support the mobility of Malian artists were also addressed.
Mali’s national team is composed of 44% of civil society organisations and also includes representatives of various ministries and public agencies, making the periodic reporting exercise particularly inclusive. The national team will now proceed to collect information on the policies and measures that will be included in the report, as well as to identify key achievements and future priorities to promote the diversity of cultural expressions. A drafting committee will be in charge of consolidating the contributions of the various stakeholders and drafting the report. To this end, a residential writing workshop will be organized by the Ministry of Culture of Mali in February 2020.