Ugandan experts stressed the important role of cultural diversity and the creative sector in promoting recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country commemorates the annual World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “The impact of COVID-19 on culture: promoting recovery and resilience of the creative industry.”
Against the backdrop that the health ministry on Friday warned of a surging number of COVID-19 cases, Rosie Agoi, secretary general of the Uganda National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that amid trying times, such as the ongoing pandemic, use of cultural diversity is critical to promoting social cohesion.
“Culture in all its diversity can foster a sense of identity and cohesion for societies at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Agoi said.
“It (culture) is also a powerful source of creativity, innovation and resilience and can rebuild a stronger creative industry if mainstreamed in the recovery plan,” she added.
Agoi said UNESCO is committed to continuous support for the development of the cultural sector in Uganda, particularly in the preservation of heritage, promotion of dialogue and supporting the creative sector.
“UNESCO has supported various interventions including mapping of the culture and creative industries, training master craftsmen and -women in artistic skills and promoting intercultural dialogue,” she said.
World Diversity Day offers Ugandans an opportunity to reflect on culture’s significant role in promoting a country’s development and the importance of the country’s cultures, said Francis Peter Ojede, executive director of the Uganda National Cultural Center.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country over a year ago, the cultural and creative industries suffered a blow as the government implemented lockdown measures to contain the disease.
A year on, the industry, including theaters, museums, and cultural heritage sites, remains closed amid COVID-19 social distancing measures, travel restrictions and prohibition of large gatherings.
Charles Batambuze, executive secretary of the National Book Trust of Uganda, said the pandemic has exposed the urgent need for the country to enforce copyright laws.
He said many artists, who became unemployed because of restriction measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, have been left with nothing and are unable to support their families.
Batambuze said if copyright laws were enforced, these artists would be in a better situation.
Sarah Nsigaye, director of Native Voices International, told Xinhua in a recent interview that there is a need to come up with innovative ways to promote the cultural and creative industries amid the pandemic.
The Uganda National Cultural Center said in a statement on Friday that besides a symposium, several online shows that promote cultural diversities have been scheduled in commemoration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.