By Gift Briton

Taking into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted livelihoods of many artists and cultural professionals globally, Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions – a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO’s) body -approved over US$730,000 in funding for cultural projects in developing countries during its fifteenth session held this week.

The funding, from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) will benefit nine projects from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Palestine, Seychelles and Timor-Leste, from a total of 615 project proposals submitted.

Out of the nine projects globally that will be benefiting from the IFCD’s funding two are from African countries including Nigeria’s Improving Market Access for Artists with Disabilities led by Potter’s Gallery Initiative and Reinforcing Entrepreneurship in Guinea’s Audiovisual, Fashion and Design Sectors led by La Muse.

The Nigerian project which aims at widening participation, creation, and distribution of cultural goods and services to previously excluded regions and social groups, will provide new skills and increase the visibility for artists and creatives with disabilities in Nigeria.

Speaking during the online Session, Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, said that the Committee’s decision is in line with UNESCO’s policy to support the creative and cultural sector, which has suffered from the pandemic.

“This period of profound upheaval is presenting all of us with a choice. Either we try to merely patch up the holes, which will undoubtedly lead us to face the same challenges in the near future, or we seize the opportunity to transform the cultural ecosystem in an integrated manner to make it more resilient, more inclusive, and more sustainable,” said Ottone.

The cultural and creative industries that relied on physical experiences at venues and sites suffered the sharpest economic losses during the pandemic and losses in revenue of cultural and creative industries in 2020 ranged between approximately 20 to 40% across different countries, a UNESCO report noted.

The report further reveals that corona virus pandemic has called to attention the challenges faced by artists and cultural workers in accessing decent work, especially in countries with limited or no social infrastructure.

In this regard, the UNESCO assistance targets support to reach young people, women and the most vulnerable groups in developing countries in order to provide them with a more stable work environment.

Within the last decade, IFCD has funded 129 projects worth US$ 9.4 million to support the diversity of cultural expressions in 65 developing countries.