The Art of the Possible and International Cultural Heritage Organisations!!
Because of today’s fast pace, the vast number of variables (wars, outbreaks of disease and terrorism, etc.) and the rapid technological advancements that affect people’s daily lives in a variety of ways, it is imperative to pay attention to the negative effects on humans' thoughts, consciences and morals and on future generations across the planet.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is a UNESCO treaty that was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 2003. It went into effect on April 20 2006. The aim of the treaty is to protect and promote intangible cultural heritage and to research the collection and documentation of all traditional cultural images and forms including music, singing, theatre, myths, traditional dances, regional customs, beliefs and traditions, traditional activities associated with diverse crafts, and folk industries.
To consolidate the UN’s goals, five international organisations joined forces to identify cultural heritage, emphasise its role and status, and to preserve, revitalise and transmit it to future generations in the form of cultural heritage rich in tangible and intangible resources, because it is a fundamental component of people's identities and a tool for rapprochement and understanding.
The Italian Federation of Popular Traditions (FITP) invited these organisations to meet in the city of Bari in southern Italy on May 13 to 16 2022. The meetings were attended by delegations from five international NGOs under UNESCO’s umbrella that are active in the field of folklore:
- The Italian Federation of Popular Traditions (FITP)
- The World Folklore Union (IGF0
- The International Organization of Folk Art (IOV)
- The World Association of Performing Arts (WAPA)
- The Federation of International Dance Festivals (FIDAF)
Each of these organisations has hundreds of members with a wide range of creative and research skills, and they have gaining a worldwide reputation for organising programmes, festivals and countless conferences and forums over the years.
IOV was represented by a team from Bahrain's President’s Office that included Dr Hanadi Issa Al-Juwdar, Ms Asrar Hassan Muhammad and myself. In-depth discussions took place over the course of three days. The primary focus was the need to find effective ways to teach future generations about the importance of cultural pluralism so that everyone is inspired to share knowledge and teach others about their traditions. This is especially important after the Coronavirus pandemic caused a serious social and economic crisis that could be a seed of collective resilience that confirms the importance of knowledge.
At this meeting, a considerable amount of time was spent deliberating about the importance of renewing the joint commitment to identifying, conserving, renewing and passing cultural legacies on to future generations. We reviewed ideas and programmes that could be implemented concurrently in line with this commitment.
Attendees held extensive discussions about the need to promote cross-cultural understanding and collaboration by encouraging national teams to participate in international festivals that boost communication, connections and cooperation.
The participating countries emphasised typical themes such as the re-evaluation of some components of heritage, ways in which modern cultures can supplement the history of previous generations, and which elements of contemporary folk culture can be included in educational curricula.
At the meeting, there was a significant focus on cooperation, collaboration and the development of intercultural dialogue and knowledge sharing. This can be accomplished by exchanging visits, by hosting and participating in festivals, artistic forums, intellectual conferences and specialised seminars on a regular basis, and by supporting and enhancing less developed nations’ efforts to preserve folk culture.
As the meeting concluded, the heads of the five organisations signed a draft agreement* that included the participants’ key findings.
The atmosphere at the meeting was very hospitable, considerate and friendly.
May God provide these organisations with the ability to carry out their duties in a world that is changing and becoming increasingly challenging and less considerate.
Ali Abdullah Khalifa
* The English version of the agreement is published in this issue's abstracts.