Comparative International Models of Cultural Policy - Culture Essay Example

I - Comparative International Models of Cultural Policy introduction. ‘Cultural relations’ and ‘mobility in the arts’ are increasingly fashionable international themes. Explore what these might actually mean and involve from a variety of perspectives (ranging from national governments to artistic providers themselves and the internet).

Art imitates life.

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Movie making, one of the more recent art form which is slowly becoming embedded inside the socio-cultural fiber of modern day culture, is a case in point in art imitating life. This art imitate life, how people live, and the many different facets there is to human life. More importantly, it mirrors culture and how culture and the arts moves personal and social politics. This work of fiction has a degree of truth in it; that is why art is the imitation of life. And through this art form the world is constantly reminded about how past culture and its preservation – along with the tangible forms that represent and signify eras of different cultures – is important.

By 2008, the movie National Treasure 2 will hit the big screen, and again, lead character Benjamin Franklin Gates is in pursuit of treasures far from conventional conception of the term – it is the gold and jewels of a nation’s past culture, relics preserved in what is now considered as art form, not just some booty from a pirate ship which one would easily trade for a million dollars cash.

Before it, there was National Treasure 1, the two Tomb Raider episodes, The Da Vince Code, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Italian Job, and Rush Hour –movies that feature how the quest for the preservation of culture and its art forms create a web that entangles different personalities, social and government agencies, groups, institutions and private organizations each after a particular aspect of one’s cultural past for his or her specific reason.

These movies are just some of the silver screen blockbusters that remind its audience of one thing: that culture and the arts continuously grow in significance as years go by. Alongside the growth in significance of culture and the arts are the growth in popularity of other modern aspects of cultural development, particularly ‘cultural relationship’ and the ‘mobility in the arts.

Cultural relations refer to the existing means and methods by which culture (including the arts) is transmitted from one location to another, as well as the significant political role this relationship play in existing societies inside the modern world. Cultural relation is largely influenced by human action and intervention through the presences of groups, organizations and individuals who are tasked with the maintenance of this particular relationship of one country with other countries. The impact of cultural relations vary in degree and depth, that is why despite the absence of direct and visible political power of cultural activities like the management and maintenance of cultural relationships of countries, huge amount of monetary and financial support is doled out to cultural relations agencies by both the government and private groups.

Take for example the case of Japan: In a website dedicated to showcasing Japan’s commitment to cultural relations with other countries, it is mentioned there how much this particular Asian country spends for granting of cultural grant aids for more than 100 countries world wide – almost 44 billion Yen. Portion of that sum was spent in Pakistan from 1983 to 1998 for projects designed to uplift the country’s cultural muscle – building of language centers; the buying of equipment for the preservation of cultural properties in Iqbal Museum, Quran Gallery of Karachi Museum, the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage in Lok Virsa; for repairing, preserving, restoration of documents for the National Archives of Pakistan; restoration efforts and relic hunting and retrieval.

Cultural relations provide the necessary guarantee that ties and relationship between two countries remain positive. The relative freedom exercised by foreign cultures inside foreign land is a sign of a stable relationship between two countries. In an analysis regarding the identification of the important factors that ultimately led to the relative unity in the modern day European economic front, analysts conclude that the innate unity in diversity of culture found in inside Europe was the key to the success of the European Union, adding that such characteristic is important in the globalizing world (Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament).

Cultural relationship is an effort that is segmented; meaning several parts of the society is involved in the entire process of cultural relations. Cultural relations in itself is also composed of many different parts – starting from the formulation of country-specific cultural policies, the preservation of art forms up to providing avenue for local and global audience for these art forms.

Cultural policies greatly affect cultural relations, and because of that, the differences in cultural policies between countries are made more obvious. Examples of these cultural policy differences and the gaps that it creates are mentioned by Varbanova (2007), particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, which includes the absence of a clear, long-term well defined cultural policy-national and regional level as well as regional observatories and cultural research centers; the lack of training programs for policy-makers and managers in the cultural field and open debates on important issues like privatization of culture, infrastructural changes, regionalization, cultural legislation; the presence and persistence of difficulties in financial and organizational sustainability of NGOs (non-government organizations); low visibility, isolation; weak cultural businesses and legislative burdens.

The social elite, contrary to what most people may think and how the media portrays culture and art functions, does not have the monopoly of the global relations and international interaction section of cultural relations since many other organizations and social sections are now more involved in playing their role in the improvement and maintenance of the country’s cultural relations with other countries, nor is there a hegemony of one particular social class in arts and culture relationship development. As Harrison (2007) notes, ‘cultural diplomacy is no longer the exclusive tool of governments’.

Storey (2003) explained that the access of common people in roles of cultural significance can be traced from the supposed collapse of traditional popular culture and cultural traditions happening between eighteenth and nineteenth century because of the entry of a new aspect in social life that altered the socio-economic and socio-political landscape – industrialization, urbanization and urban-industrial working class (p 1). The creation of folk, popular, common and mass culture empowered members of the lower echelon of the society to seats of socio-cultural influence and power. Varbanova (2007) identified cultural and community centers like the Chitalishta system on the Balkans, as well as college, secondary and primary schools as among those involved in the process of ‘preserving the traditions’ particularly in the arts, and in doing so exposes them to international trips where they showcase local art forms and making them ambassadors of the country’s art forms and putting them as one of the important key players in cultural relations.

What exactly is the meaning of ‘mobility in the arts’? What does it entail? Who or what organizations and groups are involved in this and what is the reason for their involvement? These are just some of the questions which need to be sorted and threshed out so that one can get a better understanding of such idea.

For European music artists, mobility refers to many different important things which are all necessary in pursuit of the artistic pinnacle – it can refer to the physical mobility of the artists and the art forms, in the case of the musicians, the ability to tour around Europe and the ‘exporting their work’ (European Commission, 2007). It can also refer to the establishment of local and international networks for artists, mainly cultural establishment to which their art forms can have a stable residence for a period of time, including galleries, arts academies, music schools and cultural centers. These establishment do not only provide the artist the opportunity to showcase his or her art works in varied audience but at the same time allows for collaboration with other artists and allow for gaining of new influence, knowledge and inspiration leading to growth in arts.

Mobility in the arts refer to the manner by which the arts in countries, societies, communities and cultures evolve and at the same time how it manages to maintain connection with the art forms in other places and how these art enables some specific echelon in the society manage international relationship through art and art forms. It also refers to the manner by which the art and the artists transfer from one point to another because of many different reasons including hitting a bigger audience and providing alternative arts and culture in places where it is considered as foreign culture and art.

The European Commission in particular is very cognizant of the need for mobility of European art and artist, particularly with the ability of mobility to provide a wider audience, improved international popularity and bigger market. Music is one particular aspect of European culture and arts that has considered mobility in arts as an important development for career and business growth, since it allows for a new market for European sound and enables the local market to buck particular music economy crisis in the region.

            The most important part of cultural relations and the mobility in the arts is found in the main groups directly involved in both – national government, artistic providers and art patrons and the new media: the Internet.

National governments and cultural relations work hand in hand in any part of the world simply because the culture is one of the key lifeblood of government. Without an existing cultural preservation agency that is responsible in making sure that culture is protected and given ample avenue to grow and diversify, imminent breakdown and considerable dent in national government and some of its important aspect is imminent, as excessive control of local and national governments, like the case presented by Heiskanen wherein the ‘leadership of the state has been challenged’ due to the increased role of cities as art financers and facility providers (p23) is just as bad for the national government-cultural relations formula.

Take the case of San Jose and how the deduction of the contribution of arts and culture organization to the local economy could have placed the local government in a perilous economic and political position, since the 177 million dollar contribution as well as the resulting 5,800 full time jobs that generated ‘$18.2 million in tax revenue in California; $7.6 million for local government and $10.6 million for state government’ (AMH Consultants, 2003) cannot be considered as mere loose change in the government pocket.

This is the reason why national and local governments are very much eager to launch projects designed for improved cultural relations. This is also the reason why the national government supports private entities that support effort for mobility in the arts.

            Artistic providers are no less enthusiastic than the government when it comes to talks concerning cultural relations since artistic providers are also greatly affected by the local state of cultural relations. These artistic providers – from the artists themselves to supporters and benefactors like corporate supporters and financial backers of artistic endeavors depend on the state of cultural relations with other countries so that mobility in arts as well as other art-centered goals like exposure to bigger audience can be achieved.

Adeel is convinced that the internet ‘is playing an important role’ in Pakistan’s cultural development. Adeel however accepts the fact that the Internet effect is two-faced: that it also has a negative effect on how new culture among the youth develops, particularly in interaction and communication and the chipping away of the foundation of old cultural values because of the information accessed using the Internet.

Other people’s opinion generally veered a little to the right or to the opposite direction, but the general consensus is that, like all other things, the Internet ripple has definitely reached the shores of cultural relations and mobility in arts. For all its advantages and disadvantages, it is beyond doubt that the Internet has impacted cultural relations as well as mobility in art. Communication is faster through the internet and video and audio embedding, uploading and web hosting provided new engine for mobility in the art – it is in warp speed when in transport inside the World Wide Web.

II. How do they operate in some examples of specific cases? What do you think are the gains and losses for those involved?

Cultural relationship is an idea that is primarily hinged on stable global and international relationships. It is basically the mutual exchange and preservation of culture inside foreign soil. It is allowing the locals to be exposed and to experience the culture of other countries.

This is particularly important especially with the setting of the global world, wherein many countries encouraged the influx of people from other countries and other cultures inside the country and encouraging the flourishing of other cultures, paving the way for a more complex, flexible and heterogeneous society and making it amenable for foreign investment.

Cultural relations and mobility in arts operate via different available social channels. There are several ways on how cultural relationship and mobility in the arts sustain, function and operate. One of the most common, most popular and financially rewarding ways is through the enactment of partnerships between agencies, between private companies and between countries, like the ‘Cultural Agreement Between Japan and Pakistan’ which was signed by both countries on May 27, 1957.

Through this particular method, countries sign partnerships that promise aid, financial support and other assistance provided by one or both countries involved in the pact, usually in exchange for adapting business or political atmosphere that is also more suitable to the needs of the country that proves to be more of the benefactor in the partnership. Through this particular method, mobility in the arts is also provided with the necessary vehicle to move forward since culture and arts-based grants generally target individuals and institutions which do not have money to spend. This however provides no blanket guarantee to every aspect of mobility in the arts as was mentioned earlier.

For one, the business side that goes along with the mobility in the arts (i.e. selling of records in a foreign country) is still very much hampered by existing local and international trade laws that opportunities presented in the form of cultural assistance through this said partnerships cannot transcend nor circumvent. During this particular method, embassies and specific representatives designated by each country and their offices are the ones who are in direct communication with each other, resulting to interoffice communication.

Once the bureaucratic paperwork is done and over with, these interactions can now include the direct recipients of grants and assistance resulting to cultural partnerships of countries, something which is considered as a common practice around the world. Diplomatic channels are still the most viable option as a bridge towards reaching the other end of cultural relations and mobility in the arts.

Locally though, culture and the arts groups do not necessarily have to rely on international grants and aids to be able to function. Some resort to local government support and funding, while some rely on the efficacy provided by solid and stable social networks. Cultural relation is maintained between organizations and mobility in the arts is still made possible through the initiative of leaders, using networks to get messages and ideas across, in search for supporters and partners. Aid and grants in local levels usually come from art institutions like galleries, benefactors, patrons or corporate and private sector support. The trick is to be able to tie together several art disciplines and art forms and create a collective effort that can be used as a medium or launch pad for initiatives and movement geared for cultural relations and mobility in the arts. In the local setting, culture and the arts icons of a particular place is the usual recognizable personality in gatherings as well as promising new artists whose company is sought by both the artist’s contemporaries as well as those who came before him or her. Network maintenance is important in local setting since this is also one of the means for artists to secure a niche in the local art scene for his or her own artworks so that netting international grants, aids or support is easier and more convenient compared to those who are not ‘in the loop’.

III. Assess what you consider to be the truth (or otherwise) of the common claims about culture and security, visibility and economic development.

Many have sought refuge under the umbrella of cultural sanctuary and protection, especially those who believe that the highly apolitical nature of cultural relations can somewhat provide some semblance of security through protection stemming from political intervention which normally comes to the aide of the defenseless ‘cultural sector’ of the society. Some believe that the role of cultural relationship and mobility in the arts is the guarantee of sustained (and improved) visibility in the global landscape, allowing countries additional opportunities to market themselves as countries hospitable and suitable for diversity in culture. A great number of analysts who are looking at the relationship of cultural relations and economic development believe that the state of cultural relations and the reach and capability of the arts through its mobility greatly influence economic development in the area. The state and level of a particular country’s culture is considered as important in determining three interlinked factors – security, visibility and economic development. Which of these assumptions are true and what is the extent of the substance of truth in it, and which are mere castles in the sky?

Understanding cultural relations and how art impacts social life cycles enables a person to understand not just the particular and specific role of art in mankind’s social and personal day-to-day life, it also allows an individual to discern for himself which of the roles are real, and the extent of the real purpose of art in wherever it creates real impact and at the same time where cultural relations is found and existing.

Culture, and its significance to its locals as well as to foreigners who have interests in the area, sometimes act as beacons for social security, and here is one of the many examples: sustained and improving sense of security in some social aspects through answers for cultural S.O.S was the picture painted by the United States when it doled out assistance to Kyrgyzstan in the form of ‘faculty development’ and ‘administrative training’ as well as financial aid via endowment to the tune of 10 million US dollar, saying that the country’s main purpose is to generally the rebuilding of Central Asia as a ‘cultural and commercial crossroads’ (US Info, 2006).

There are many other different cases like this one, but it is also important to note that the aspect of security bought by the need to preserve culture due to the rushing of countries to another country’s aid is something which is very mercurial and highly unstable because vested economic, political and military reasons most of the time stand as vested interest by the countries who are willing to sponsor culture revitalization programs in the country, resulting to the entry of foreign currency in the local market like US dollars and Euros.

The clincher to this perception is the presence of security (1) when the country that has interest in helping cultural revitalization in a particular country is not generous or capable enough for financial aid, or (2) once sponsoring countries has already satiated their economic, political and military interests in a particular country.

The idea of cultural and national security can also be a double edged sword since the influx of foreign support can dictate the manner by which cultural growth can actually grow in a particular area, depending on the preferences of the supporting agency. There is no doubt that culture can be an effective tool to invite a sense of security over particular socio-economic areas; but the question remains – how secure is that particular sense of security?

Culture can invite and solicit support that can provide a sense of security for the national government as much as it is capable of making a particular country (through its culture) highly visible in international transactions. A very upbeat and forward moving state of culture in a particular area is considered by many business observers as highly indicative of an environment that can sustain the growth and stability of foreign owned business.

Culture and economic development – Culture and the arts has always been an integral part of the society. The two always provide an important role in the functioning of the society. It is only through the increased and evolved role and participation of cultural workers and cultural groups that the arts and culture has created a more significant role in modern day society, particularly in economic development, may it be in a local, regional, national or international level.

Today, there are social and business institutions that are characterized as industries based on culture and arts. An example of this is the Arts and Cultural Industries (A&CIs) in the county of Santa Fe. Because of the growing significance of arts and culture in areas around the world like the Santa Fe County, researchers are trying to really identify and quantify the measurable contribution of arts and culture in the society. Evidently, national and local governments benefit from cultural activities and efforts for improved cultural relations, particularly cultural tourism. This is a clear example of cultural endeavors directly benefiting local economics. The next question is what actually comes first? Is cultural relationship first stabilized before economic ties are forged, or is cultural relationship a product of strong economic partnership between two countries? Some may consider that cultural harmony and relationship came before economic development; that it was the establishment of cultural relationship among countries that enabled the creation of a more stable economic atmosphere. This was proven according to Dario Fo (as quoted in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament) who stated that cultural relationship is indicative of harmonious relationships among European countries which was evident even before the European countries were even able to reach the plateau of mutual economic development that it enjoys then and now. Others believed that a stable economic status in a particular country was critical in the state of culture the country has.

Bibliography

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