CultureWork ; Vol. 11, No. 02

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Title: CultureWork ; Vol. 11, No. 02
Author: Appe, Susan Marie
Abstract: Due to mass displacement caused by violent armed conflict — a war involving guerrilla groups, paramilitary militias, and drug trafficking — Colombia's capital city of Bogotá has a population over eight million. Despite its violent and political reality, Colombia's cultural sector is diverse, immense, and brilliant. It is producing high quality arts and cultural events that build community throughout the Capital District, paving the way for an active citizenry in Colombia. When I first wrote the proposal for my Fulbright research, I intended to examine if the Columbian National Culture Plan's goal of moving "towards democratic cultural citizens" was being fostered in Bogotá, Colombia (Colombian Ministry of Culture, 2002). The study has modified a bit; I found that I needed to look at a slice of the cultural sector -- nongovernmental organizations and their relationship to the Colombian State. By looking at this relationship, I have been able to derive recommendations that might help further the plan's overarching goal of creating democratic cultural citizens. This paper presents select results taken from the larger research project mentioned above. I argue that State intervention in the cultural sector should shift from direct intervention to synthesizism. To synthesize [synthesis] is "to combine parts or elements so as to form a whole."(1) In Colombia, the State's role in the cultural sector has become increasingly important for recognizing cultural diversity and strengthening information flow and availability. Miller & Yudice (2002) stated that Colombia is "riven by armed conflict among guerrillas, paramilitary groups, narcotrafficers, and the military, as part of the US-financed war on drugs. Mediating diversity is thus a life and death issue" (p. 138). In addition to the armed conflict, Colombia is characterized by "regional diversity"; as a country Colombia has begun to honor cultural "claims of indigenous and black groups" (p. 138). Colombian's diversity and the armed conflict have become key foundations and, at times, challenges to the formulation of cultural policies and the work of the cultural sector. Cultural dialogue has become a pillar in policy objectives to strengthen the cultural sector, particularly in the National Culture Plan.(2) It acknowledges such rights as cultural autonomy and fostering communication and information flow in languages and in ways appropriate for diverse cultural communities (Colombian Ministry of Culture, 2002). Synthesizism, as described above, needs to be further focused into a cultural synthesizim. Cultural synthesizism addresses two urgent trends in the cultural sector. The State's role must: 1) respond to the diversity of Colombia, as a whole and in its cultural sector; and 2) remedy challenges of information flow and availability within the sector. In Colombia, the government has taken initiatives to address these trends; for example, by aiming to increase participation in monitoring the spending of and fair distribution of public funds in culture and in the formation of cultural policy. In order to explore the levels of challenge and success for these initiatives, this article will focus on four key areas. First, I will give a brief introduction to State intervention in Colombia. Following this, I present examples derived from surveys of 47 nongovernmental administrators that highlight the state of the cultural nongovernmental sector (CNGS). Then, I will briefly introduce the two prevalent opinions of State intervention. Finally, I assert that the role of the State must shift from direct intervention to synthesizism introducing a third realm of State intervention, cultural synthesizism. I conclude by suggesting 3 steps that begin this process.
Description: 6 p.
Date: 2007-07

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