Over 130 Ministers and Vice-Ministers of Culture joined the online meeting convened by UNESCO to discuss actions to bolster the cultural sector, which is facing unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministers spoke of the direct effects of the current crisis on tourism, museums, cultural production and artists, as well as the measures that they have taken to mitigate the impact of the crisis. They reaffirmed their commitment to intergovernmental dialogue and international solidarity in order to strengthen and unite their efforts.
Opening the debate, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, reminded participants that “We need culture, so we need to help it to sustain this shock. We must assess the impact of the crisis, launch a joint reflection and coordinated initiatives. UNESCO fully intends to play its role in this process, in line with its mandate.”
Ministers highlighted the social and economic benefits of the culture sector in their countries, and agreed on the urgent need to invest in the sector during, and following, the crisis. The mobility restrictions and containment measures that governments have been forced to adopt due to the pandemic have drastically curbed access to culture in the short term and – if action is not taken – could weaken the entire cultural ecosystem for generations to come.