Tuesday, June 19, 2007

UNESCO and Cultural Industries

It should not be a surprise to Americans that cultural industries are big business, given the economic importance of the movies, television, radio, recording, publishing and the theater in this country. It may be more of a surprise that cultural industries are becoming increasingly important in the international commerce of developing nations.

The Internet is the latest of the information and communications technologies making the world a smaller place. Cultural tourism is increasingly important, not only as people have more chance to experience the cultures of developing nations vicariously by traditional media, but personally with the help of arrangements for travel and lodging made via the Internet. E-commerce in products from traditional craftspeople and music has exploded in recent years -- another impact of the Internet.

The expansion of international trade of the cultural industries of poor nations enriches American consumers by allowing us access to whole new worlds of cultural riches. It supports the social and economic development of those countries not only by providing hard currency and jobs, but by providing recognition for the values of their traditional cultures and supporting cultural changes that contribute to social and economic development. Moreover, cultural industries are an effective way to fight poverty, since often those people with the least money have the craft, musical and other skills that can be tapped for productive and remunerative employment in cultural industries.

Still, the world map of cultural industries reveals a yawning gap between North and South. UNESCO is working to strengthen cultural industry capacities in developing nations and facilitating their access to global markets at national level by way of new partnerships, know-how, control of piracy and increased international solidarity of every kind.
Go to the UNESCO website for its program on cultural industries.

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