UNESCO Memorandum of Understanding signed in Ghent, EFA acknowledged

21 September 2010

On 18 September 2010 in Ghent/Belgium, a Memorandum of Understanding of the UNESCO “Creative Cities Network” was signed. The city of Ghent was appointed UNESCO “City of Music” in 2009 and joined the network that had been launched by UNESCO in 2004. Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General of the European Festivals Association (EFA), was present and took note of the acknowledgment of the Association as an important player in the Flemish cultural scene. The high-level meeting that took place in the frame of “OdeGand”, the opening of the 2010 edition of the Gent Festival of Flanders, brought together Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent, representatives from UNESCO and other creative music cities, officials of the Flemish Government, including Joke Schauvliege, Flemish minister for Culture, Geert Bourgeois, Flemish minister for Administrative Affairs, Home Management, Civic Integration, Tourism and the Vlaamse Rand, as well as representatives from the cultural sector and the press. Through signing the Memorandum of Understanding, the member cities commit themselves to promote cultural industry and creativity both as a tool to enhance the local economy and as a cooperation area among them. They recognise the necessity to collaborate in order to i.e. build local and international networks and to exchange knowledge and experiences between creative cities. In his speech, Stef Coninx, Director Music Centre Flanders and Board Member European Music Council, highlights the important work of international platforms and networks such as the International and European Music Council and the European Festivals Association in the frame of policies such as the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. EFA Secretary General Kathrin Deventer underlines: “Networks offer an important international platform for exchanges on best practices, know-how, trends and challenges. On top of these internal networking moments, a network such as EFA – that brings together arts festivals from 38 countries – ensures a flow of information between the sector and decision makers at various levels through tangible actions and products. EFA gives visibility to challenges at stake in the world of festivals and the cities they take place in and identifies barriers which should be removed by political actions.” In the past years, EFA has set up a series of initiatives that approach societal challenges in the framework of festivals. “The city of Ghent has a reputation as a well-established centre for music with a rich tradition and inclusive approach to culture. (…) There is a solid support given to a variety of music genres, through a wide range of festivals such as the Festival of Flanders and different organizations, including the Federation of Music Festivals in Flanders (FMiV) and the European Festivals Associations (EFA),” Ghent is described on the UNESCO website. The "Creative Cities" Network is promoted by UNESCO and aims at creating a connection between cities that are able to support cultural creativity and make it an essential point for its own economic development. In order to promote business and culture, the network offers to local operators an international platform on which to convey the creative energy of the Cities, thus paving the way to share local experiences in a global context. Next to Ghent, the cities of Bologna (Italy); Seville (Spain); and Glasgow (United Kingdom) carry the label “City of Music”. Related links: • Ghent, UNESCO City of Music10 things to know about Ghent, UNESCO City of Music • Video: Ghent: UNESCO Creative City of MusicCity of GhentFlanders Festivals International / OdeGandUNESCO Creative Cities Network