Culture is an essential part of development cooperation, and should be equated with food certainty, for example, health and education. This assertion is the guideline for the event Beyond Diversity: Moving towards MDG no. 9 being organised by Hivos in Amsterdam on 2 June 2005. The event is being organised in recognition of the tenth birthday of the Hivos Culture Fund.
Moving toward MDG no. 9 refers to the eight Millennium Development Goals as defined by the UN. In the year 2000, the international community agreed to achieve these goals in 2015. Concrete promises so that serious progress can be achieved in the development of the South. However, none of the eight goals as defined is about culture.
Culture should play a central part in development cooperation, Hivos believes. 'Because of the vital part played by culture in social development processes,' explains Paul van Paaschen of the Hivos Culture Fund. In Hivos' view, art and culture contribute to a society in which ideas can be freely exchanged. Van Paaschen: 'By proposing culture as the ninth millennium goal, we want to stimulate a discussion about the part culture plays in international development cooperation. Can feasible goals be formulated in the area of culture?'
In the past ten years, the Hivos Culture Fund has supported hundreds of small and large projects. 'We also have a long-term involvement in the establishment of certain sectors, such as the film sector. We support productions via the Hubert Bals Fund. We also finance film festivals for the distribution and for discussions based on content, such as the Zanzibar International Film Festival. To stimulate new talent, we support film schools, such as Imagine in Burkina Faso.'
And in the next ten years? 'The objective remains stimulating cultural expression and dialogue in the South, so that cultures can meet and various voices can be heard. Those voices should also be heard in Dutch society, which literally tends to plug up.'
During the event on 2 June, debates will be organised on culture and development, with prominent national and international guests, presentations, a film and poetry programme, and an exposition. The complete programme can be viewed at www.hivos.nl/culturefund. In the evening, the theatre performance Black Moon, by The Lunatics/Payung Hitam will have its European premiere.