Year in review: 2021

IFACCA - International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies,
16 December 2021

While 2020 was a year of global disruption and reckoning for the cultural and creative sectors, 2021 marked the rise of strategies and action for recovery and resilient futures. Join us as we review the year that was 2021. 

The year opened with commitments to support the cultural sector through the social and economic challenges posed by the global pandemic. At the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in February, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa highlighted the deepening global inequality brought about by the pandemic. 

The same month, the Canada Council for the Arts held its Annual Public Meeting, during which Director and CEO Simon Brault outlined the Council’s vision and forthcoming strategy to rebuild a more just, equitable, and sustainable arts sector, which places innovation at the heart of recovery and uses public investment to further social development. 

In May, the United Nations (UN) World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, addressed the theme Building back better: towards a more resilient and impactful culture sector throughout COVID-19 and The Decade of Action. The Federation’s Executive Director participated in a panel session on Achieving Culture’s Transformative Potential to Accelerate the Decade of Action and highlighted the role of culture in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and in post-pandemic recovery.  

By mid-year, many of these vital dialogues had coalesced into strategy and action. In July, the European Commission published guidelines for the design and implementation of measures for reopening and sustainable recovery. Half a world away, the National Arts Council of Singapore and the Australia Council for the Arts published insights on arts consumption and digital cultural engagement, which included guidance on navigating the digital transformation that followed the pandemic.  

In August, the focus turned to the important roles of local governments and communities in the way forward. The United Cities and Local Governments’ (UCLG) fourth UCLG Culture Summit in Izmir, Turkey highlighted culture as an integral part of sustainable cities and encouraged mayors and local leaders to share innovations and policies from their communities. This thinking was also seen in action in Malaysia, when the National Department for Culture and Arts (JKKN) considered new strategies to ensure arts and culture are close to communities and development agendas, despite the challenges of the pandemic. 

By September, nations were well and truly focussed on recovery efforts, and the reality of living in a changed world. Colombia’s Ministry of Culture set goals for the future of the cultural and creative industries, including training for artists and reactivation of jobs. Similarly, Arts Promotion Centre, Finland and the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (Cupore) used their national Arts and Culture Barometer online survey to investigate the future of creative work, the role of artists in society and the impact of COVID-19 on artists’ work and livelihoods. 

Global attention in November turned to the climate crisis and the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. In the lead up to the climate talks, IFACCA participated in Culture: The Missing – a lens on policy hosted by the NGO, Julie’s Bicycle and the British Council, where discussions covered the implications of aligning cultural policies with frameworks that support climate transformation.  

December marks preparations for crucial dialogues on the 2022 cultural calendar. IFACCA contributed to the regional consultation informing the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development – Mondiacult 2022, which will be convened by UNESCO in partnership with the Government of Mexico 40 years after the original milestone congress.  

Registrations have now opened for the 9th World Summit on Arts and Culture, co-hosted by IFACCA and the Swedish Arts Council. This edition focuses on safeguarding artistic freedom and invites the international arts and culture community to Stockholm in June 2022 for an in person gathering.  

We thank you for championing arts and culture in your part of the world. Now more than ever, international co-operation is vital to the realisation of strong creative futures. We look forward to working with you in 2022 and hope to see you in June  at the 9th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Stockholm, Sweden.