UNESCO launches music development project in Morocco

UNESCO launches music development project in Morocco

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) held a consultative meeting to implement the Music as a Driver of Sustainable Development in Morocco project in Rabat, Morocco, on 13 March.

The meeting is widely seen as an attempt to speed up the cultural economy of the North African country, which has made considerable efforts in the past few years to preserve and improve its creative industry as well as foster music exports.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by the UNESCO office for the Maghreb in cooperation with Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, the two-year pilot project aims to strengthen the music sector in particular as a source of integration, employment and income, especially for young people, through appropriate policies and measures.

The 13 March meeting was jointly opened by Ministry of Culture and Communication arts director Abdelhak Afandi, the head of cooperation at Germany’s embassy in Morocco, Antje Göllner-Scholz, and the acting director of the UNESCO office for the Maghreb, Michael Millward. The meeting was attended by about 50 Moroccan music industry professionals.

Marcella Maziarik, a representative of the German ministry, expressed excitement about the launch of the project.

"The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is pleased to launch this pilot project in Morocco," Maziarik said. "We need to take advantage of the high potential of culture and creative industries for value creation, income and employment, especially for young people, while focusing on education and training.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Visa For Music artistic director Brahim El Mazned said the implementation of the project echoed the findings of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions study conducted by the Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance to demonstrate the massive contribution made by the cultural sector in the country.

"Ensuring the plurality and diversity of cultural expressions is essential, he said. “The Visa For Music festival, the Bureau of Moroccan Music Export (MOMEX) or projects such as the production of anthologies of music in Morocco allow the principles of the 2005 convention to be put into practice. They make culture a reality and a real factor of sustainable economic and social development.”

The director of the culture programme at the German National Commission for UNESCO, Christine Merkel, said: “In Morocco, and beyond, it is important to invent public policies that support a rich, diverse and accessible cultural offer. Thanks to digital platforms, export strategies and new patterns of south-south mobility, new voices are emerging.”

A UNESCO statement says the number of arts festivals in Morocco increased significantly in the past few years. But effective policies still need to take a holistic approach to support the value chain and adapt to changes in the digital environment.

Despite the increase of festivals, they were challenges, UNESCO said. A 2014 report by Morocco’s Ministry of Culture shows that the export of music and other digital media records amounted to 36 million Moroccan dirhams ($4m), while the value of imports amounted to 197 million Moroccan dirhams.

Morocco has recently seen a few developments designed to improve the cultural industry in the country. It recently passed a new law on the status of the artist, while the Africa Art Lines project was launched to aid artists with mobility. The creation of MOMEX is also seen as an important development that will strengthen the industry.

“Recent statistics from the Ministry of Culture also show that as of 2015, women accounted for only 22% of artists holding the professional card provided by the ministry,” the UNESCO statement said. “In the field of music, the figure falls to 15%, despite the adoption of a Government Plan for Equality (2012-16), which includes measures to promote the participation of women in the creative industries.”

Extract: Music in Africa