Unesco world heritage site Skara Brae, a neolithic village on Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands, is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Historic Environment Scotland

Unesco hosts meeting of culture ministers to discuss Covid-19 pandemic

Robert Collins, 01.05.2020
Cooperation and the need for emergency funding were key themes of the discussion
International agency Unesco last week hosted an online meeting attended by ministers and vice ministers for culture from more than 130 countries, to discuss how the cultural sector should respond to the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

Those taking part in the meeting on 22 April said that urgent measures needed to be taken to mitigate the effect of the virus on international culture. And Audrey Azoulay, the director general of Unesco, called for a “a joint reflection and coordinated initiatives”.

Cooperation was a key theme of the meeting, with ministers committing to retaining an “intergovernmental dialogue” during the pandemic. During the meeting, ministers shared the impact Covid-19 such as the dramatic downturn in tourism and a lack of cultural production coming from artists. World heritage sites have now been closed in 90% of countries.

Ministers also highlighted the need to invest heavily in cultural sectors in order to avert their collapse, and agreed that although arts and culture is often one of the most overlooked sectors when it comes to budgetary support, emergency funding packages were crucial for safeguarding the livelihoods of the creative workforce.  

Ministers praised the efforts of museums and artists for continuing to create and raise awareness of new bodies of work digitally.

Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Unesco’s assistant director-general for culture, said: “We cannot reverse the progress seen over the past few years in the cultural sector. It is through culture that we will forge our collective resilience and its culture will bring us closer together.”

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