Cultural policies and measures
Just since 1959 measures began to be taken to upgrade the national culture as a whole. An example of a measure of excellence and political will was the Literacy Campaign, carried out in 1961 throughtout the country which made the illiteracy rate to be dicreased to almost cero.
The cultural policy of the Republic of Cuba, characterized by the permanent intercultural dialogue, recognizes the true cultural development and the social unity on the basis of a quantitative and qualitative increase of the level of participation of the people, without any limitation or discrimination in the cultural life of the country, while setting up the potentials for creation and the active participation of the population and facilitating its access to the highest levels of the universal culture and the respect to the most sacred aspirations of man, the provision of cultural services to the people and the cultural development in the rural areas and the disadvantaged territories of the country.
During this period the Cuban cultural policy has been strengthened and widened, a measure taken by the country for many years including all arts manifestations while being complemented to each other; the mass media (the press, television, radio, and others); most of the ministries and national entities given the relation of their working objectives with the process of the cultural development of the country; the student, youth, women, children and other organizations and associations. The educational and cultural system was improved by setting up two TV channels thus encouraging the democratization and dynamics of culture, establishing the right to take part in the cultural life and the enjoyment of the benefits of the scientific and technological progress. At the beginning of the 1990s, Cuba adopted the policy of the «Ten basic cultural institutionss», something which meant a fresh impetus to the governmental regulations so as to boost the involvement at provincial and municipal levels to multiply a whole network of institutions up to the social basis but which did not necessarily, and not always, respond to the interests, traditions and customs of many urban or rural communities.
Another aspect in conformity with the 2005 Convention which we worked on and was enriched during this period is the working projects, for the studies on gender, family, domestic and public violence, social justice, collaboration, solidarity, freedom of women, defense of the individual and collective rights, reorganization of the community work, culture economy, market studies, the scientific and technological development for the benefit of the cultural processes and services, among others. Al these projects and programs were made by both governmental institutions and non- governmental organizations3. All of them can be consulted at the institutions and in most of the cases the results were published.
The Cuban cultural policy has always been oriented, and implemented during this period, to the promotion of a culture of rights; towards the legitimization of spaces which contribute to strengthen the traditions, customs and cultural practices of Cuba as such, based on different origins (mainly African, Chinese, Arabic, etc.); to develop affirmative actions that help to strengthen the identity values of the African culture in the Cuban culture and its knowledge, to contribute to eliminate racial prejudice.
“The communication between the artists and writers and the people, through the cultural institutions and their promoters, [has been] … a permanent principle in the implementation of the cultural policy, [facilitated] among other processes, by the cultural programming”.
Regarding the cultural legislation, before the period being reported on, there were already legal provisions for protection, as the Law No.1, Law of Protection of the Cultural Heritage, dated August 4, 1977; the Decree No.118, Rules and Regulations for the implementation of Law No. 1; the Law No.2 Law of National and Local Monuments, dated August 4, 1977; and the Decree No.55 for the implementation of Law No.. In 2009, on August 1, the National Assembly of the People’s Power passed the law No 106 of the National System of Museums of the Republic of Cuba, which establishes the organization of the Cuban museums as a mechanism of cultural integration and promotion aimed at achieving the protection, conservation and spreading of the Nation’s cultural heritage, as well as contributing to the formation of patriotic, ethical and aesthetic values within the population while establishing the ways of creation and elimination of these institutions in the national territory. In the year 2010, the Council of State passed the Decree-Law No 271, aimed at setting up the principles and fundamental bases to rule the activity of the libraries of the Cuban state, thus strengthening the role, played by the libraries in the fulfillment of the citizen’s constitutional right to access to education, history, culture and sciences on all their manifestations, as well as to regulate the tasks of the José Martí National Library of Cuba. The Coordinating Group of Cooperated Work was set up by virtue of this Decree-Law in order to establish and control the library’s policies of the Nation, the development of collaboration strategies, as well as the promotion and progress of programs, initiatives and agreements of exchange of information, ideas, services, resources and specialized knowledge.
The cultural work is supported by the work of the social actors (cultural promoters) as a coordinating element, dinamizing the sociocultural processes, for being a creative agent, producing changes in the communities, with an attitude of service and openness to the new knowledge, promotes arts, with direct ties with the specialists, arts instructors, artists, creators, professionals, bodies and organizations, for the development of activities aimed at enriching the cultural scope and the quality of life of the people, which makes the work for the cultural diversity to become the dynamizing key of development.
The main actors for the implentation of this policy have been the State, with the universe of its governmental institutions; the authorities at the different governmental levels, the local communities, the Ministry of Culture and its institutional system and the Cuban civil society in general. In order to get the highest efectiveness in the execution of such policy, there have always been mechanisms of alliance among the aforementioned actors.
An important player in the implementation and assessment of the Cuban cultural policy and the intercultural dialogue has been the Cuban civil society, which gathers creators of different cultural manifestations. The Association of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) and the Cuban Association of Artist Astisans (ACAA) are the most significant ones among the existing organizations which a joint work has been carried out with. Besides the aforemenioned NGOs, there are others gathering experts and specialists of the different artistic manifestations which equally work on projects and specific initiatives that are complementary to the national programs developed by the cultural governmental entities. Likewise, regarding the implementation of the Cuban cultural policy, there are excellent working and mutual support relations with various national foundations, being the most outstanding ones the Fernando Ortiz Foundation; the Nature and Man Foundation; the Martin Luther King Center; the YORUBA National Association, and others.
During this period we also continued on the setting up of standing committees and programs with a collegial criterium. As an example of it and with the main purpose of achieving the intercultural dialogue, the National Commission of Intangible Heritage was set up to gather the governmental institutions and the civil society which have this issue as their social object; also the Sub-commission of Cultural Diversity was established to promote, plan, take care of and follow-up the work made by the different institutions and organizations; the work of the Culture-Tourism Commission was strengthened.
The National System of Artistic Education which, together with the academic and specialized training, promotes and preserves the intercultural dialogue, was, during this period, the promoter for the implementation of the cultural policy, and at the same time the receiver of its programs, projects, etc., contributing and being the beneficiary of the network of 64 schools all along the country dedicated to the professional training of artits and culture specialists (equivalent to higher secondary school); and the Higher Institute of Arts, which leads and implements the plans for obtaining the corresponding degree, mostly by professional training graduates.
There were big challenges for the implementation of the Cuban cultural policy, among them, the objective to achieve a prioritized attention to the children and youth amidst the current world economic situation which Cuba is not allien to; to achieve integration among all the social actors and agents with the purpose that their benefits contribute to an equal, sustainable development; that the cultural work is inderstood and made as a development process; to extend the cultural services to the mountain, isolated and disadvantaged areas; to recognize the values of the traditional popular culture; to introduce new technologies in the processes of artistic and literary creation and appraisal and to strengthen the culture economy.
The impact of the Cuban cultural policy and the measures taken for its correct and fruitful implementation is due to, among other issues, the fact of meeting the aforementioned challenges; the dynamization of the traditional popular culture; the creation and projection of a national cinematography and the increase of audiovisual materials; the people’s access to and participation in culture as an audience and as participants; the prioritized attention to the children and youth; a bigger integration with the bodies and organizations in the attention to prioritized and special programs; the increasing publishing movement and a bigger reading promotion; the high artistic level in fine arts, music, dance, theater and literature; the work on the preservation, protection and socialization of the tangible and intangible heritage; the defense and promotion of the cultural diversity based on the respect to the national and international culture and traditions.
The indicators taken into consideration, being similar ones during the whole period are:
Besides the intelectual and creative assessment, some of the indicators considered to achieve the evaluation of the implementation were: the institutional capacity for the development of relations with the creators; the correct implementation and updating of the Copyright Law; use of the registries and inventories of the creators as an instrument of the cultural policy; the condition of the preservation of the sites, monuments y heritage objects of the territories; updating of the museological plans and the museographic projects; the rescue and safeguard of the identity values which are present in the expressions of the traditional popular culture; the guarantee of the presence of the traditional popular culture in the cultural programming and in the mass media; the establishment of the community as the main space of the cultural programming and with the active participation of the artists and writers of the territories; the guarantee of the quality of the cultural and artistic offer and; the assessment of the artistic priorities or hierarchies for its programming and promotion; number of activities carried out and of participants per every cultural manifestation and service; the presence of amateur artists and arts instructors in the programming of the territory; predominance of the most authentic values of Cuban arts and culture in the programming of the institutions and communities; the continuity and coherence of the curricula of the different levels of artistic teaching and the improvement of its quality and rigour with the participation of the artists and intelectuals of reference;