What part does art play in society and in the interests of the world's artists? Has globalisation destroyed or strengthened cultural diversity? The Fórum Cultural Mundial will search for answers to these and other questions, from 26 June through 4 July in the Anhembi Park in the Brazilian metropolis São Paulo.
The World Forum for Culture is in part a result of the intergovernmental conference Cultural Policies for Development, held in 1998 in Stockholm. Art and culture play a key role in economic development, according to the philosophy. They stimulate innovation, creativity and diversity and therefore generate new ideas, technologies and solutions. This is why art and culture must hold a more prominent place in national and international policy, and also why the sector deserves more investments. The Fórum Cultural Mundial is intended to strongly stimulate this.
The programme of the forum - which, for the record, is not directly related to the Forum Barcelona 2004 that will also be held in Spain at the same time - includes numerous discussions. The hub consists of a five-day symposium on six current themes, including culture and social development. There will also be a 'market of ideas and opportunities' where supply and demand in the world of culture will be brought together to do business. The programme also includes dance, concerts, digital art, machinery, expositions and theatre performances, in which artists from the southern hemisphere play a prominent role.
Nevertheless, the organizers - the municipality of São Paulo, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture and the cultural organisation Casa Via Magia - do not refer to the World Forum for Culture as an event, but as a process. Opinions from all corners of the world are important, and discussions must be kept going; this appears to be the motto. The World Forum for Culture is not an ending, but a beginning.
In anticipation of the forum, artists, activists, policy makers and intellectuals met in Brazil and other Latin American countries during seminars and network meetings. They studied the needs of the world of culture and analysed culture policy and trends in international cooperation. The debates have already started, virtually (in Portuguese, although the rest of the website is in English) on the organisation's website. These discussions are intended to result in new types of international cooperation in which culture plays the lead.