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Australia and UNESCO to research art for the promotion of cultural diversity

The first joint project between the Australia Council for the Arts and UNESCO Bangkok will look into how culturally diverse artworks are created in Australia. The Diversity of Cultural Expression (DICE) project in partnership with the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at the University of Western Sydney is the first project under a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations to promote cultural diversity in the Asia-Pacific. The DICE Project will research and analyse up to six significant Australian art projects that explore the intersection of diverse cultural expressions across a range of art forms and practices. 

Opal Valour at Salamanca Arts Centre 2011 -Courtesy Kultour

Survivor by Dadang Christanto - Courtesy Gallery 4A and Kultour

Thuringowa Helicopter Project by Alwin Reamillo - Courtesy Kultour

Professor Ien Ang, the Director of the ICS said:  “This research opportunity allows Australian researchers and artists to be at the forefront of the debate on cultural diversity under the 2005 UNESCO Convention. We at the ICS look forward to understanding the dynamics of how critically acclaimed culturally diverse artworks are created in Australia.”

Through the MOU the Australia Council and UNESCO will support international collaboration, partnerships, research, and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression in our region. It will assist both organisations to implement UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, to which Australia became a signatory in 2009.  

The MOU follows recommendations at the 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture held in Melbourne in 2011, where over 500 delegates from 70 countries requested that governments ‘commit to activating and implementing the spirit and principles of the Convention… and deliver on its objectives by making it central to national, state and local cultural policies’.

Kathy Keele, CEO of the Australia Council says: “Our agreement with UNESCO is a significant milestone in highlighting on an international stage the culturally diverse work for which Australian artists are renowned.  This partnership gives Australian artists and cultural workers access to one of the world’s most important cultural organisations, and we are very excited about the opportunities that will emerge from this partnership.” 

Tim Curtis, Chief of the Culture Unit at the UNESCO Office in Bangkok said: “Many countries in Asia and the Pacific are experiencing booming cultural and creative industries. This partnership is a good opportunity to present some good practices in the region to show the Convention in action, and encourage countries that have not yet ratified the Convention to do so. It is also an important step towards promoting further exchange among artists and cultural practitioners, a theme at the heart of the Convention.”

Ultimately the MOU will assist the Australia Council and UNESCO to assert the case that culture should be a significant component of the UN Millennium goals, and integrated into all international development initiatives.   

For further information, visit the Official website of the Convention: