INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL AFFAIRS:
A 14 Country Survey
Harry Hillman Chartrand
Alas there has been no serious effort to sponsor research in the field of cultural relations. Because governments and other major bodies concerned
funding cannot see any obvious application or 'pay-offs' for such
investigations, they simply have not been carried out.
The times, they are a changing. The bipolar world of East and West is fading into history. The North-South split is becoming blurred on the eve of Canada-Mexico-U.S. free trade and as 'developing' countries such as Brazil, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand emerge as industrialized nations. A common biosphere and its thinning ozone layer is now visible from space becoming a shared perceived problem of all humanity.
In this vortex of change, it is not only geopolitics, economics and ecology that have acquired a new configuration. Cultural affairs are being transformed from an internal domestic concern into an external security question involving national identity, sovereignty and survival; in foreign policy, they are becoming a preferred instrument of international relations; and in economics, the United Nations has declared culture critical to economic development with its call for: The Decade of Cultural Development: 1986-1996.
Examples of the increasing importance of cultural affairs abound. 'Ping-pong' diplomacy plays a growing role in establishing relations between formerly hostile nations such as the United States of America and the People's Republic of China; the Canada Cup serves as a symbol of 'friendly' competition between the Soviet Union and Canada. Hollywood and 'rock and roll' eroded the Berlin Wall as a global youth culture spread in spite of parental protest around the world. Young people dance to the same rhythms in Accra, Buenos Aires, Chicoutimi, Cincinnati, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Yokohama. The second largest net export of the United States, after defense products, is entertainment programming (The Economist, 1989) while, at the same time, the internationalization of American cultural enterprise continues.
A fundamental characteristic of cultural goods and services is that they are essentially carriers of 'values' rather than utilitarian function like a coffee pot, automobile or bank account. The importance of 'values' is apparent in the ongoing debate about 'cultural sovereignty'. One side argues that national and regional identity is based upon a distinct set of values embodied in cultural goods and services. Even in the United States, some are now raising the argument as American cultural enterprise is increasingly acquired by foreign interests. Some point to the rising tide of regionalism within formerly unified states such as the Soviet Union and Canada as evidence of the importance of cultural sovereignty. These regional cultures, sometimes called 'the little sisters' '(Vettraino-Soulard 1984), contend with a homogenizing, standardized global 'Big Brother' culture.
The other side of the debate is made by those who argue for the 'universality'
of human values. This 'global village' argument contends that experiences shared
on a global scale through communications media will eventually transcend
differences among citizens of separate nations or regions. Some observers
suggest this vision is becoming a reality and point to developments in the
Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China as responses to values of freedom,
dignity and prosperity transmitted through penetrating networks of global mass
media and communications.
A twin question arises: Can national arts industries, which compete with such multinational giants, be vehicles for conveying distinctly national traditions and cultures; or, does explicit pursuit of profit compromise their cultural products in international trade? Canada, the European Community and other nations have, in effect, argued commercial arts industries are essential elements in cultural sovereignty. The USA, on the other hand, argues pursuit of profit makes such industries subject to trade liberalization.
But if cultural goods and services are different from other commodities, do existing international treaties and trading agreements recognize this difference? Yes! First, international trade, by definition, concerns commercially traded goods and services. Given that many cultural goods and services are not commercial products, they are not subject to the terms of trade agreements. Nonprofit services as dance, orchestral music and theatre as well as cultural products such as collections of public galleries and museums are the subject of a very different type of international legal instrument - the international cultural agreement including Unesco conventions and covenants such as the Florence Agreement eliminating barriers to the flow of educational, scientific and cultural materials including books and conventions protecting national patrimony from illegal export.
In this regard, the USA has continually recognized a nation's sovereign right to control its communications networks and cultural policies. In negotiations, however, the USA has attempted to limit this cultural exemption to production of materials that reflect the specific traditions and cultures of its trading partners. It objects to creation of measures to achieve economic or industrial objectives under the pretext of protecting cultural sovereignty (Card 1987).
Second, commercial cultural goods and services such as film and television programs, recordings and books constitute what in Canada are called the 'cultural industries', in the United Kingdom the 'arts industries' and, in the United States, the 'entertainment industry'. Traditionally, economic protection and regulation of the cultural sector in many countries have not distinguished between what is cultural and what is entertainment. Rather, they have afforded protection generically on cultural grounds (Andruszkiewicz, Skok 1990).
Third, existing international trading agreements also distinguish between commercial cultural goods and services from other types of goods and services. With respect to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), there are four provisions that permit such a distinction to be made. For example, under Article XX sub (a), restrictions are permitted to protect public morals. To the degree public morals form a distinct part of national culture, then to that degree foreign cultural goods threatening public morals can be restricted. The most obvious example is Islamic societies which hold fundamentally different values from the West concerning portraying relationships between men and women. But continuing controversy in many Western nations concerning sex and violence in books, film, video and TV programming has traditionally been used to justify restrictions on cultural goods imported from more 'liberal' countries.
In the case of Article XX sub (f), exceptions to trade liberalization are allowed for the protection of artistic, historic and archaeological treasures. In principle, this provision could be extended to the cultural industries to provide protection of cultural identity. Similarly, Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community, exempts cultural treasurers from the general prohibition on quantitative restrictions on trade. This exemption is, however, the subject of ongoing controversy within the EEC as the 'Single Market' of 1992 approaches (Chartrand 1991).
As a national foreign policy instrument, cultural affairs embrace academic relations including the sciences, the arts and cultural activities such as broadcasting and information services as well as recreation and sports activities. International cultural affairs can be defined as activities conducted or directed by a given nation to an audience outside its borders as well as the activities of other nations conducted or directed within a nation's borders. The United States recognizes this definition by its requirement that all motion picures paid for by a foriegn government shall be exhibited with a legally required disclaimer as foreign propaganda. Similarly, the United States Information Agency is legally prohibited from operating with the United States itself. Thus, the proposed definition of cultural affairs includes broadcasting targeted at foreign audiences, e.g Radio Free Europe. International, as well as the 'footprint' of domestic broadcasting services extending into neighbouring countries, e.g. Finnish domestic television received in the western part of the former Soviet Union.
While there is general consensus on the set of activities which make up international cultural affairs (with the exception of external broadcasting traditionally treated as a distinct activity), there is less agreement on motivations for engaging in such affairs. Motivation evolved through time. Progressive revisionism has led to three contemporary motivations: cultural diplomacy, cultural relations and cultural sales. Like most definitions in cultural matters, the categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive; they are a question of degree, not of kind..
Cultural diplomacy is essentially the business of government. It is called different names in different countries and in different periods. In the United States, it is called 'public diplomacy'; in the United Kingdom, 'alternative diplomacy'. Prior to World War II, it was known as 'propaganda'. Negative connotations lead to revisionism similar to the change, after the war, of the 'department of war' to the 'department of defense'.
Using whatever term, cultural diplomacy is an official activity intended to obtain advantage in a foreign country, often from a short-term political perspective. It seeks to impress, to present a favourable image so that diplomatic operations, as a whole, are facilitated. It has two levels of meaning. The first involves negotiation of cultural treaties, conventions, agreements and exchange programs, bilateral or multilateral, between governments to permit, facilitate or prescribe cultural exchanges. The second involves execution of such agreements and the activities flowing from them. These may be the responsibility of government or may be delegated to specialized agencies or institutions.
Cultural relations, on the other hand, are neutral and mutual in their intent and impact. Like cultural diplomacy, they employ public resources and benefit from international agreements. But the purpose of cultural relations is not one-sided advantage but mutual understanding and cooperation. Cultural relations are often carried out by 'arm's length', autonomous or independent agencies with a long-term cultural perspective, for example the British Council and the Japan Foundation.
Cultural relations, as a concept, has humanistic, altruistic roots. Based on the
premise that understanding leads to tolerance and hence to peace, cultural
relations requires sharing each other's culture to create mutual respect and
understanding. But just as the change from department of war to department of
defense cannot hide the fact that sometimes 'the best defense is an offense',
the best and most subtle cultural diplomacy is often veiled as cultural
relations. If an activity appears fostered by government (domestic or foreign),
intellectuals and other opinion leaders often view it as propaganda rather than
an altruistic effort at mutual understanding. Thus, for many years, support of
the Voice of America by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States was
veiled behind a cover 'foundation'.
Today, mass or popular culture is a very big international business and forms
the third leg of the cultural affairs triangle: cultural sales and services. The
worldwide entertainment industry including publishing had sales of over $US 250
billion in 1986. The five largest international entertainment conglomerates
control nearly 20% of world wide sales. The second largest net export of the
United States, after defense products, is entertainment programming.
Copyright and other forms of intellectual property provide the legal foundation for the industrial organization of cultural activities. Until the current Uruguay Round of GATT, intellectual property rights were not the subject of international trade negotiations. Rather, trade in intellectual properties was subject to international conventions such as the Berne and Rome Conventions concerning copyright. These conventions require 'national treatment' but not harmonization of rights granted under different national legislation. Accordingly, if a nation chooses to provide limited protection to its own creators, then no greater protection is available to foreigners. Furthermore, a number of countries including many former Soviet Bloc countries have not signed international conventions and are not obliged to protect the rights of foreign creators. Weak domestic laws and refusal to sign international conventions has permitted widespread piracy and copyright infringement particularly in South East Asia and the Eastern Bloc.
In fact, beyond agriculture, current General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations are floundering because of disagreement over intellectual property rights. GATT discussions have run up against differing concepts of 'creator's rights' in English common law and European civil code traditions. The civil code recognizes creators have inalienable rights extending far beyond those recognized by common law copyright. These rights limit the power of corporate entities to exploit intellectual properties. The American position in GATT negotiations is that civil code rights granted to individual creators should be extended to corporate copyright holders. The Europeans disagree (Unesco 1991).
Beyond copyright piracy, theft of art works and fraud are now major
international problems, reflecting, in part, their enormous increase in value.
Between 1969 and 1989, the average rate of return on art as investment was
significantly higher than all other forms of capital investment in the USA.
Coins provided the best return and gold the worst - demonstrating the investment
potential of a combination of aesthetic and scarcity value (Chartrand June
There has been increased international effort to mitigate the problem. In the public sector, there has been a notable development with creation of national databases of stolen objects. In 1990, a UNESCO Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders was held at Havana, Cuba. A recommendation was approved to extend existing cooperation between UNESCO, INTERPOL and the International Commission on Museums (ICOM) in relation to stolen goods.
Changes in global and domestic environments made it appropriate for the Government of Canada, through the International Cultural Relations Bureau (ICRB) of the Department of External Affairs and International Trade Canada, to conduct a comparative policy assessment of different national practice and experience concerning international cultural affairs. It is with the permission of the Director General of the Bureau, Mr. Alain Dudoit, that results of the survey are reported in this article.
In the conduct of the comparative policy assessment, five steps were followed:
a) establish the context of change, global and domestic, by reference to current Government of Canada efforts and policies concerning competitiveness, the constitution and the foreign policy framework;
b) develop a survey instrument about ICR efforts by countries allied with, important or similar to Canada;
c) consult and share differing national practice and experience with foreign cultural attaches resident in Ottawa and, through them, their governments;
d) consult and share with Canadian cultural attaches resident abroad, representatives of the Canadian cultural community and ICRB HQ personnel, information about findings to date, perceived weaknesses and strengths of Canadian ICR, and to brief Canadian attaches about domestic cultural developments; and,
e) assess the changing role of business in international cultural affairs as expressed at the 1992 World Economic Forum.
Between May 1991 to January 1992, I was engaged to develop, process and report results of the survey and to construct a conceptual framework for assessing the impact of ICR on domestic and foreign policy objectives. Drawing upon the Unesco Framework for Cultural Statistics, the efforts of the European Community (Ca'Zorzi 1989) and Canadian experience (Chartrand 1988), an exploratory survey questionnaire concerning international cultural affairs was developed. Fourteen countries were requested to complete the resulting standardized questionnaire - Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Eleven agencies likely to be engaged in ICA were initially identified: Arts & Science Councils, Overseas Broadcasting Agencies, Ministries of Communication, Culture, Education, External Affairs, Heritage & Conservation, Sports & Recreation, Trade & Industry, External Cultural Relations Foundations and a catch-all category 'Other'. Seven ICA activities were identified: Academic Relations, Arts, Cultural Industries, Heritage & Conservation, Nature & Environment, Sports and 'Other'.
To make the survey manageable, only direct expenditures by public institutions, at the national level, were requested; international cultural expenditures by provinces or cities were not requested. Tax expenditures, such as tax exemption of charities engaged in international cultural affairs, were not requested, nor was private sector spending, an increasingly important component of contemporary international cultural affairs.
In spite of restrictions, the survey instrument was extremely complex. Completion required information from many different agencies and departments of government. It was anticipated that necessary information for some countries could not be obtained within the limited timeframe available. Ottawa-based cultural attaches for the thirteen foreign governments were contacted and asked to recommend who in their home country would best be able to complete the questionnaire. Canadian cultural attaches, in the thirteen foreign capitals, were then notified of these recommendations and requested to use their good offices to identify other possible contacts. Canadian data was developed, in Ottawa, using the Public Accounts of Canada.
In addition to Canada, nine countries responded, fully or in part, to the
survey. These were: Australia, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West
Germany), Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the Netherlands,
Spain and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Library of Congress in the USA
has undertaken to complete the survey on behalf of the Canadian Embassy in
Washington. Library researchers were intrigued by a question which had not
previously been raised to their attention. Results were not, however, available
in time for this assessment.
Between December 2-4, 1991, a consultation was held at the National Arts Centre of Canada. Canadian cultural attaches resident abroad, representatives of the Canadian cultural community and ICRB HQ staff were invited to respond to findings to date, determine perceived weaknesses and strengths of Canadian ICA; and to brief Canadian attaches concerning domestic developments.
Between January 29 and February 6, 1992, through a grant from ICRB, I was able to accept an invitation to the World Economic Forum and to assess the changing role of business in international cultural affairs expressed at, and by, the Forum.
Finally, the completed comparative policy assessment was prepared drawing upon survey results, Canadian and foreign consultations and an assessment of the changing role of business in international cultural affairs as expressed at, and by, the World Economic Forum.
Of fourteen countries surveyed, ten replied - in whole or in part. Four were unable to obtain necessary information from all relevant departments and agencies - Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Data for these countries are marked with an 'X' indicating that only partial data is available and comparability is lacking. The Republic of Korea (South) provided all necessary information but its return was distorted by the 'one-time' impact of the Olympic Games. Accordingly, only five complete and comparable returns resulted from the survey - Canada, France, Germany (West), Japan and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Library of Congress in the United States was intrigued by the survey and, through the good offices of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, has agreed to complete the survey. Unfortunately, information was not available in time for this comparative policy assessment.
France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and South Korea reported ICA for 1990 rather than 1989. Accordingly, GDP and related data are reported in Exhibit 2 for that year. For purposes of comparison, the 1990 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GDP per capita, for reporting countries, are shown below in Exhibit 1.
Reporting countries varied dramatically with respect to physical size and population (Exhibit 2). Canada was physically the largest measuring almost 10 million square kilometers. The Netherlands was the smallest occupying only 40.8 thousand square kilometers. Japan had the largest population with more than 123 million inhabitants while the Netherlands had the smallest population of 14.8 million inhabitants. While ICA data was not reported by the United States, information concerning its physical and economic size are displayed in Exhibit 2 for comparative purposes.
There were also significant difference with respect to the share of GDP used for public purposes (Exhibit 2). In the Netherlands, 51.7% of GDP was public expenditure compared to only 26.8% in Japan. South Korean data can not be compared because only central government spending is included. Similarly, public sector employment accounted for 22.8% of total employment in France but only 6.3% of total employment in Japan.
In processing returns, three additional definitional issues had to be resolved. First, there is dispute about the treatment of spending on overseas broadcasting services such as Radio Canada International (Mitchell 1986). For purposes of comparability, overseas broadcasting was included as ICA and assigned to Cultural Industries and attributed, in all cases, to an overseas broadcasting corporation, whether or not so designated in returns.
Second, there is, at least among English-speaking countries, a tendency to exclude ICA spending targeted at developing countries, i.e. they are treated as international development assistance. In Canada, ICA-like activities of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) amounted to more than $270 million. In the case of the United Kingdom, no relevant information was provided but the controversy was made explicit in the return from the British Council. For most reporting countries, such spending is generally included as ICA, e.g. France. For purposes of comparability, however, ICA-like spending for overseas development assistance purposes has been excluded.
Third, while ICA includes academic relations, there is a difference between the treatment of science expenditures made to special agencies like the European Space Agency. In the case of Canada and the United Kingdom, more than $40 million and $170 million, respectively, was spent in support of the European Space Agency. While international scientific cooperation is increasingly conducted through such special 'non-academic' agencies, for purposes of comparability such spending was excluded.
Among the five countries reporting complete and comparable data, i.e. Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK, Japan spent nearly $Cdn 1.6 billion, followed closely by France at $1.5 billion. Germany and the UK spent $1.1 billion and $765.1 million, respectively. Canada spent $80.9 million. In per capita terms, France spent $Cdn 26.58; Germany, $18.49; UK, $16.31; Japan, $12.60; the UK, $13.37; and, Canada, $3.08 (Exhibit 2).
Measured as a share of GDP, ICA spending by France spent 0.11%; the UK, 0.08%; Germany, 0.07%; Japan, 0.05%; and, Canada, 0.01%. Measured as a a percentage of total public expenditure France spent 0.23%; the UK, .21%; Japan, 0.18%; Germany, 0.16%; and, Canada, 0.03%.
The pattern of ICA activity varies significantly between reporting countries (Exhibit 3). Among countries reporting complete and comparable data, Academic Relations accounted for almost 60% of ICA in the UK; 46% in Germany; 42% in Canada; 41% in France; and, 35% in Japan. The Arts accounted for almost 3% of ICA in Japan; 21% in Germany; 13% in the UK; France; and, 3% in Canada. Cultural industries, including overseas broadcasting services, accounted for almost 28% of ICA in the UK; 26% in Germany and in Canada; 8% in France; and, 2% in Japan. Heritage was reported only for Japan and France, accounting for 0.8% and 0.7% of ICA, respectively.
Sports accounted for 4% of ICA in Canada; 3% in France; and, 0.4% in Germany. Japan and the UK reported no support for Sports. The unallocatable category 'Other' accounted for 39% of ICA in France; 25% in Canada; and, 7% in Germany. Japan and the UK reported no unallocatable ICA activity.
The pattern of ICA by agency displayed significant variation between the countries reporting complete and comparable data (Exhibit 4). Arts or science councils accounted for 20% of ICA in Germany; 10% in Canada; 3% in Japan; and, 2% in France. The UK reported no spending by arts or science councils. Data for Canada excludes the Canada Council which spends roughly 2.5% of its $100 million budget on international arts activities. Most, however, is paid by External Affairs & International Trade Canada. Overseas broadcasting corporations accounted for 28% in the UK; 26% of ICA in Germany; 25% in Canada; and, 3% in France. Japan did not report such spending.
The Department of Communications accounted for almost 4% of ICA in Canada. No other country reported for a Department of Communications. This reflects the dual nature of the Canadian Department as a Communications and Culture Ministry. If the Department is treated as a combined Communications/Culture Ministry, as in France, then it accounted for 4% of ICA in Canada and 2% in France. No other country reported ICA by a Ministry of Culture and/or Communications.
The National Department of Education accounted for 19% of ICA in France; 5% in Germany; and, 2% in the UK. Other countries reported no ICA provided by a Department of Education. The Department of the Environment accounted for 4% of ICA in Canada; and, 0.4% in France. No other country reported ICA by a Department of the Environment. External Affairs accounted for 69% of ICA in France; 56% in Canada; 29% in Germany; 5% in the UK; and, 1% in Japan.
ICA was reported by a Department of Sports only in France and accounted for nearly 3% of ICA. External Cultural Agencies such as the British Council accounted for 63% of ICA in the UK; 15% in Germany; 6% in Japan; and less than 1% in France. ICA not allocated to a specific department or agency accounted for 90% of ICA in Japan; 3% in Germany; 2% in the UK; less than 2% in Canada; and 1% in France. The Japanese data reflects the collaborative nature of Japanese ICA in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborates with other departments and agencies. In one case, the Ministry collaborated with 11 different ministries and agencies in the delivery of ICA activity.
In addition to data, the survey provided background and other bits of information relevant to understanding differing foreign experience and practice. Three observations of this kind need to be made at this time. First, of ten reporting countries, eight had or are in the process of creating some form of external cultural agency - Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain and the UK. Only Canada and the Netherlands have no such institution.
Second, each country surveyed, except one, had extreme difficulty in compiling relevant information from all departments and agencies of national government. The exception was France. Since 1982, the Government of France has required all departments and agencies of government to make an annual report concerning international cultural relations (État Récapitulatif des Crédits concurrent à l'Action Culturelle de la France à l'Étranger, No. 82-126 du Decembre 1982).
Third, the United States is engaged in a series of legislative initiatives including the National Education Intelligence Act to stimulate greater international cultural competence. The US Senate Intelligence Committee and its chairman, argue that with the end of the Cold War, international competition has shifted to cultural and economic battlefields. To compete successfully in this new world order, they believe it necessary to enhance second and third language training and regional study programs.
Three sets of consultations were conducted in preparation of this comparative policy assessment. The first involved foreign cultural attaches, resident in Ottawa, from countries included in the survey. The second involved Canadian cultural attaches resident abroad as well as representatives of the Canadian cultural community. Finally, informal consultations were conducted by the consultant while attending the World Economic Forum held in Switzerland in January and February 1992. Highlights from each consultation are included as findings of this assessment.
On November 18th 1991, ICRB conducted a consultation with foreign cultural attaches, resident in Ottawa, from countries included in the survey. Representatives from 13 of the 14 countries surveyed attended. The exception was Sweden. Held in the Board Room of the Canada Council, the consultation highlighted major aspects of the differing experience in international cultural relations. First, both Korea and Italy are actively engaged in international cultural relations with immigrant communities abroad. Maintenance of a cultural connection between expatriate communities and the motherland is considered critical to the political and economic well being of their nations. It was suggested that the abilities required of cultural attaches had less to do with relating to a foreign country than with the ability to cultivate these expatriate communities.
Second, it was noted that there was a growing need to justify international cultural relations activities. Furthermore, it was suggested that the effectiveness of satellites and other means of overseas broadcasting was open to question compared with traditional 'on the ground' cultural diplomacy, e.g. tours by peforming companies.
Third, the consultation highlighted continuing tension between cultural and trade aspects of international cultural affairs. For some countries such as Australia and the UK, cultural sales and services are accepted as a ICR. In both, the concept of 'fade out' emerged in discussion. In effect, cultural attaches foster commercial cultural sales and services until the private sector, e.g. British rock'n roll, are firmly established in a foreign market. Cultural attaches then fade out of the picture leaving the private sector to handle sales and promotion activities.
Finally, all countries except Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK, i.e. English-speaking countries, treat international cultural relations with developing countries as cultural not developmental in nature. One can properly speak of developed and developing in an economic GDP per capita sense, but one should not do so with respect to art and culture. Accordingly, other countries do not distinguish between the target, i.e developed vs developing countries, and the function, i.e., culture. This has implications for current treatment of international cultural affairs activities of CIDA as distinct from economic development.
The most repeated theme emerging from the consultation of December 2-4 1991 between Canadian cultural attaches posted abroad, representatives of the Canadian cultural constituenices and ICRB headquarters staff was the need to link culture and trade. The attaches were seen as the early warning system for Canadian exporters of cultural goods and services. They should identify local markets and venues. They should facilitate delivery of product. They should follow up after delivery and determine client satisfaction. They should keep the domestic market, i.e. the media, apprised of the success of Canadian cultural sales and services abroad. They should raise the image of Canada in the minds of Canadians and foreigners by fostering pride of Canada's place in the world of culture and trade. In short, they should help make Canada a brand name for quality in the global marketplace.
In the course of the ICRB survey, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum (WEF) became aware of the work of the consultant in the field of cultural economics. WEF, which publishes the annual World Competitiveness Report, meets every year in Davos Switzerland to discuss the state of the world economy. Global corporate executives like the Presidents of Sony, Olivetti, Pepsico and Kellogs also have an opportunity to meet, on an informal basis, with government leaders from around the world, e.g. in 1992 these included the Prime Ministers of China, India and Pakistan, the presidents of the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, President de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, the European Commissioner for Competition Policy as well as the Canadian Minister for International Trade and the Premiers of British Columbia and Quebec. WEF, in short, is a general assembly for the united nations of business.
The founder of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab organized the
First World Arts Forum in Venice this August. The importance of the arts and
culture to the global 21st century economy was a major theme. Over 200 artists
and leaders of the various arts communities from around the world attended.
Development of a World Arts Report and a World TV Network were just two of the
proposal emerging from the conference. Jack Lang, Minister of Culture for
France, remarked concerning the forum:
The Professor invited the EAITC consultant to attend the World Economic Forum in order to discuss development of a World Arts Report. ICRB provided a grant so that KEI's Chief Economist could accept the invitation and assess global business' attitudes towards international cultural affairs.
At WEF, the theme of which was Global Cooperation and Megacompetition, the consultant observed and participated in many discussions and attended most of the plenary sessions. One finding was a shift away from 'multinational' towards 'multi-domestic corporations'. Business recognized that to do business in different cultures required awareness, sensitivity and responsiveness to those cultures. Furthermore, it is necessary for global business to use arts and culture as a medium for communicating between various 'multi-domestic' markets and insure peace and tolernace in these markets
It was also noted that fears of 'trading blocs' like Fortress Europe are overstated. It was argued that the level of multi-domestic cross-investment is now so great, and therefore the level of intra-firm transfers, that 'nationalistic' barriers are having less and less meaning and represent a declining threat to the stability of world trade.
The plenary address by President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic,
Vaclav Havel, was the most dramatic presentation - a show stopper. Excerpts from
his speech have been reprinted in recent issues of the Globe & Mail and the
New York Times. Essentially he argued that the meaning of the death of communism
is the end of the modern age and of the belief that scientific rationality, that
has created a technological nightmare, can solve the problem. The President
eloquently argued that only the human heart can solve it. And, of course, art
and culture are vehicles for expressing the wants and needs of the human heart
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