Who will respond?!
There are two international folk art and culture organizations. The International Organization of Folk Art (IOV) and the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF) are NGOs that work under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Both the IOV and CIOFF have been active for around thirty years. They include members, bands and teams from a variety of regions, and they represent various institutes for art and culture, hosting national and international events throughout the year.
The Arabs’ roles within these organizations are limited and unrepresentative of the Arab world’s significance.
Over the past six years, the Folk Culture Journal has cooperated with the IOV; the IOV helps the Journal with logistics and communication with the organization’s branches in 161 member countries. The Journal has also developed a fruitful cooperation with the organization’s thousands of members across the world; this helps to spread the Journal’s message.
At meetings of the Board of Directors, we discuss our successful cooperation with IOV, which has allowed us wider international distribution and facilitated communication with scholars and experts. Despite the efforts of the distribution managers, volunteers and supporters who believe in our journal and in its message, we have failed to reach certain areas of the Arab world.
Why have the relevant persons not met to establish an Arab organization to oversee the clubs, associations, institutions and individuals working in folklore? This would unify efforts and create an Arab coalition with a strong voice at international forums on popular culture.
In coordination with Prof. Dr. Ahmad Ali Morsi, head of the Egyptian Society of Folk Art, I addressed this issue in the opening speech at the fourth National Forum of Folk Traditions in 2009, which was organized by the Folk Arts Committee of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture.
The same issue was also raised last year at an international symposium that the Folk Culture Journal organized in Bahrain; this led to the establishment of the Arab Marsad of Folk Culture, an ambitious project that aims to serve Arab heritage and folklore.
If conditions in the Arab world at that time contributed to the lack of response to our call, current conditions are even less promising, but we must persevere until we get a response..
Ali Abdulla Khalifa