[artinfo] INCD media release: Artists around the world speak out for cultural diversity at the WTO's 5th ministerial meeting in Cancun

NewMediaArtProjectNetwork info at nmartproject.net
Thu Sep 11 09:39:38 CEST 2003


Artists around the world speak out for cultural diversity

".we celebrate and encourage our cultural diversity and embrace and respect
our cultural differences." INCD Artists Letter

Sept 10, 2003 -  The International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD -
www.incd.net) will launch the Artists Letter on Cultural Diversity during
the World Trade Organization's (WTO) 5th Ministerial Meeting in Cancun,
Mexico.  Leading Mexican actress Angélica Aragón will release the letter at
a Public Forum being held on September 12th.

The INCD brings together artists and cultural organizations from 70
countries who are working together to counter the negative effects of
globalization on our cultures.

Signed by artists from 15 countries and all of the cultural sectors, the
Artists Letter calls on governments to protect cultures from the
infringements of trade agreements, to work to encourage more balanced
exchanges between cultures and to recognize the unique status of cultural
expression as a reflection of human identity.  It is imperative that culture
not be reduced to its economic value as the WTO negotiations threaten to do.
Many governments are under pressure to bargain away their cultural identity
in the race to liberalize all sectors of the economy.

This is why Harry Belafonte, Ingmar Bergman, Nadine Gordimer, Danny Glover,
Sam Neill and 36 other artists have added their names to the growing
international movement to secure the right of all artists to practice their
craft and share the wealth of the world's cultures.  The artists also
support the proposed new Convention on Cultural Diversity, currently under
consideration at UNESCO.  This Convention would provide a permanent legal
basis for the promotion and protection of cultural diversity and ensure that
cultures can thrive in the era of globalization.

The Artists Letter is below with the list of the initial signatories. For
more information on the artists, please go to www.incd.net/letter/letter.htm

Public Forum:
Friday, Sept 12, 2003, 10:30-12:30
Hotel Best Western Plaze Caribe
Tulum Uxmal Lote 19, Cancun Mexico

Media contacts:
Tammy Ballantyne
Artists Letter Project
tammyb at artslink.co.za
cell: 27 83 440 4984

Alexis Andrew
INCD Associate Coordinator
Tel: 1 613 238 3561 ext 17
incd at ccarts.ca

In Cancun:
Garry Neil
INCD Coordinator
Cell: 1 416 518 1256

Rafael Segovia
INCD Steering Committee/Mexico
Cell:  555.413.0306


It is time to secure the rights of artists globally.  These rights are at
risk because international trade courts are ruling on artistic matters.

We are artists and citizens of the global village.  We come from every
community and work in all artistic fields.  Through our words, music, films,
dance, paintings and plays, in every language on earth, we entertain, inform
and engage our fellow citizens in the adventure of being human.

It is an exciting time to be an artist.  Technologies can overcome physical
distance and allow our works to be shared more widely than ever before.  We
have the potential to exchange and blend our rich diversity of cultural
practices in ways our ancestors could only imagine.

It is also a dangerous time.  Many human conflicts arise from a failure to
recognize cultural complexities or from perceived threats to cultural
values.  The road to security and prosperity requires that we celebrate and
encourage our cultural diversity and embrace and respect our cultural

Some believe artistic creations are no different from conventional goods and
services and they deny or ignore the powerful cultural importance of works
of the human imagination.  For some of the world's largest corporations,
artistic works are commodities to be bought and sold like any other.  They
seek to dominate the world's markets with homogenized forms of popular
culture and thus marginalize artists in many of our communities.

Our world of unequal economic relationships has created unequal cultural
relationships.  We believe governments have a responsibility to resist the
economic push by implementing policies that support diverse local artists
and cultural producers, and ensure pluralism in the media and the arts.
This will create more choice and bring about a greater balance in exchange
between cultures.  Governments must also preserve threatened cultures and
languages, especially those of indigenous peoples.

An important struggle between these incompatible visions is underway in
trade negotiations.  Trade officials negotiate rules that would hasten a
global monoculture and make it virtually impossible for communities to
support their artists.  We oppose these efforts.

 At the same time, discussions have started within and outside UNESCO to
develop a new global Convention on Cultural Diversity to provide a legal
foundation for government measures that support cultural diversity and to
encourage governments to use that authority domestically.  We support this

As artists, we come from different disciplines; as citizens, we come from
different countries.
But, we are united in our call to the world's leaders:
· don't bargain away culture in trade talks
· implement a legally binding Convention on Cultural Diversity
· use your powers to support diverse local artists and cultural producers
· help those countries that don't yet have the capacity to bring their
stories, music and other artistic expressions to audiences everywhere.

"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be
stuffed.  I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as
freely as possible.  But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."
Mahatma Gandhi, from the wall of his ashram at Ahmedabad.


Eugenio Aguirre (Mexico, writer)
Bibi Andersson (Sweden, actress)
Angélica Aragón (Mexico, actress)
Homero Aridjis (Mexcio, writer)
Gillian Armstrong A.M. (Australia, Film Director)
Margaret Atwood (Canada, writer)
Ingmar Bergman (Sweden, film maker)
Harry Belafonte (USA, actor/ musician)
Michael Boyd (UK, Head, Royal Shakespeare Company)
Agricola de Cologne (Germany, New Media artist)
Bec Dean (Australia, Exhibition Coordinator/Visual arts)
Salvador Elizondo (Mexico, writer)
Karel Glastra van Loon (Netherlands, writer)
Danny Glover (USA, Actor)
Nadine Gordimer (South Africa, writer)
Sin Cha Hong (Korea, Dancer/writer)
Byungki Hwang (Korea, Composer/Musician)
Kwon Taek Im (Korea, Film director)
Jung Rae Jo (Korea, Writer)
Sumi Jo (Korea, Vocalist - Opera)
Tom Keneally (Australia, writer)
Chiha Kim (Korea, Poet/Writer)
Pierre Larauza (France, Architect videographer)
Youn Taek Lee (Korea, Drama producer)
Robert Lepage (Canada, Film/theatre director)
Igor Marinkovic (Serbia, Visual artist)
Carlos Monsivais (Mexico, writer)
Carlos Montemayor (Mexico, writer)
Sam Neill (New Zealand, Actor)
Abraham Oceranski (Mexico, theatre director)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada, writer)
Victor Hugo Rascón (Mexico, writer)
María Rojo (Mexico, actress)
Volker Schlöndorff (Germany, Film director)
Tomás Segovia (Mexico, writer)
Tang Shu-wing (Hong Kong, Theatre director)
Danis Tanovic (Croatia, film director )
RH Thomson (Canada, Actor)
Antonio Traverso (Australia, Academic, media and video artist)
Roger Von Gunten (Mexico, painter)


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