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Culturelink Activities Report and Programme

I.   General Direction of Culturelink Activities in 2005-2006

II.  Activities of the Culturelink Network in 2005-2006
1.   Publishing Activities
2.   Research
3.   International Conferences
4.   Information Infrastructure
5.   Web Projects
6.   Financing

III. Programme for 2007-2008
1.   The Network as a Process
2.   Research
3.   Publishing Activities
4.   International Conferences
5.   Culturelink WWW Resource Centre Development
6.   OCPA WWW Resource Centre Development

IV.  Conclusion

At the 15th session of the Scientific Council of the Institute for International Relations in Zagreb, Croatia, the focal point of the Culturelink Network, held on 28 March 2007, the Report on the Activities of the Culturelink Network in 2005-2006 and Programme for 2007-2008 was adopted as follows:

Culturelink, the Network of Networks for Research and Cooperation in Cultural Development, was established in 1989 by UNESCO and the Council of Europe with the view to strengthen the international communication between networks, institutions and professionals in the field of culture and cultural science, the exchange of cultural information, ideas and knowledge about culture, and the development of research and intercultural communication. Pursuing these aims, the Culturelink Network has continued its activities in the period between 2005 and 2006, and drawn up its programme for the years 2007-2008.

I.   General Direction of Culturelink Activities in 2005-2006

In the past period, Culturelink, as a world-wide network, continued to encourage and develop the establishment of links and cooperation between international networks in the field of culture, scientific and cultural institutions, universities, cultural centres, non-governmental organizations and professionals from all continents. The number of permanent members of the network has settled at around 1000 from 110 countries worldwide, while over 10.000 networks, institutions and in general persons working in the field of culture are connected to Culturelink, be it as partners or as users of it online resources (see the section on the WWW Resource Centre).

Through the Network new contacts and cooperational activities were established, the exchange of experiences and information was strengthened, joint research projects were carried out and papers were published. The framework of various network activities united a number of renowned foreign and domestic experts, which resulted in the publication of new joint books (see the section on the Culturelink Joint Publications Series). Culturelink has organized several international conferences and seminars, among which the Second World Culturelink Conference was of special importance. The network participated in a number of international research projects, especially those sponsored Unesco and the Council of Europe, and took part at numerous international conferences.

To enhance its operation to the fullest, the Network continually developed its information and communication infrastructure, especially the Culturelink Members and Partners Database, which has been updated regularly in the period under review, and the WWW Resource Centre. The dynamics of communication were additionally intensified through the electronic newsletter C-News, published monthly and bringing an array of news and information.

The network team was made up of IMO's researchers of the Culture and Communication Department.

II.  Activities of the Culturelink Network in 2005-2006

1.   Publishing Activities

Culturelink Joint Publications Series

This series publishes expert papers and research results on specific topics, which have largely been presented and verified at conferences and seminars organized by the Culturelink Network. Eleven books have been published so far, encompassing topics of cultural identity, intercultural dialogue, urban tourism, cultural transition, digital culture, creative, industries, Unesco's Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, dynamics of communication – new ways and new actors.

In the period 2005-2006 four new books have been published in this series:

eCulture: The European Perspective. Cultural Policy, Creative Industries, Information Lag. Culturelink Joint Publications Series No.7, editors: Sanjin Dragojević, Diane Dodd, Biserka Cvjetičanin, Cas Smithuijsen.

The publication was published in cooperation with the European network Circle. The authors investigate cultural changes taking place under the influence of the new information and communication technologies. Digital technologies and networking present new challenges possibilities of cultural development and artistic creation. New forms of cultural expressions and new content demand a reevaluation of cultural policies and intercultural communication. The contributions in the book, ranging from cultural policies to cultural market production, e-culture, from the problem of copyright and virtual ways to museums and libraries, offer a critical insight into the current state and highlight both positive and negative aspects of the development of e-culture.

The Emerging Creative Industries in Southeastern Europe. Culturelink Joint Publications Series No.8, editor Nada Švob-Đokić.

The publication is devoted to the changes caused by the introduction of new communication technologies and the development of creative industries (film, music, advertising industry, etc.) in Southeastern Europe. The contributions analyse the state of the creative industries in the region (from the development of the concept of cultural industries, via its application in transitional societies, to specific case studies) and cover issues of cultural exchange and cooperation in the region, the internationalization of cultural policies and practices in the area. Part of the publication is devoted to several important aspects of cultural cooperation (cultural studies and the Bologna process, cultural portals, multiculturalism, interculturalism and minority issues, the concept of Kulturstadt and the creative city in public policies, etc.).

Unesco's Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; Making It Work. Culturelink Joint Publications Series No.9, editors Nina Obuljen i Joost Smiers.

The book publishes papers by fifteen international experts analysing the true meaning of Unesco's Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, from the original idea of its drafting and the emphasis of the value of such an undertaking, to its potential impact and the best strategies for its implementation. The contributions encompass thoughts about the possible future legal impact of the Convention, the Convention as an answer to the cultural challenges at a time of economic globalization, the strengthening of audiovisual services in the future, the market and cultural diversity, the need for a global cultural movement, the meaning of the Convention for Korea, Mexico, the Arab world.

Dynamics of Communication: New Ways and New Actors. Culturelink Joint Publications Series No.10, editor Biserka Cvjetičanin.

This book publishes the papers of fifty international experts who participated at the Second World Culturelink Conference held in 2005. They study the consequences of globalization processes, redefine the role of key actors in the field of culture (the state, local communities, professional organizations, etc.), analyze changes in the cultural policies and the development of partnerships between civil society and the private sector. Part of the papers is devoted to issues of cultural diversity in the light of Unesco's Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and new ways of communication and cooperation, especially to cultural networks and digital culture, highlighting the uneven distribution of digitalisation on a global level.

The selection and treatment of topics in these four books demonstrate that the Joint Publications Series continues to follow the new challenges in culture, and, through its original scientific and expert papers, contributes to their initiation and study. Numerous experts from all continents participate in this, including the following:

Colin Mercer (Great Britain), Joost Smiers (The Netherlands), Raymond Weber (Luxembourg), Ivan Bernier (Canada), Kirill Razlogov (Russia), Nada Švob-Đokić (Croatia), Jean-Pierre Saez (France), Dorota Ilczuk (Poland), Vjeran Katunarić (Croatia), Reza Najafbagy (Iran), Jennifer Williams (Great Britain), Sarah Gardner (Australia), Chulamanee Chartsuwan (Singapore), Matko Meštrović (Croatia), Simao Souindoula (Gabon), Gao Xian (China), Risto Taneski (Macedonia), Yolanda Onghena (Spain), Sanjin Dragojević (Croatia), Diego Gradis (Switzerland), Konrad Gunesch (Germany), Abdelillah Benarafa (Morocco), Mark Dubrulle (Belgium), Guillermo Gutierrez (Argentina), Milena Dragičević Šešić (Serbia), Ana Wortman (Argentina), Serge Bernier (Canada), Karl-Erik Norman (Sweden), Žarko Paić (Croatia), Garry Neil (Canada), Helene Ruiz Fabri (France), Caroline Pauwels (Belgium), Rafael Segovia (Mexico), Christophe Germann (Switzerland), Kruno Martinac (Australia), Dubravko Škiljan (Croatia), Benjamin Fernandez Bogado (Paraguay), Biserka Cvjetičanin (Croatia), Cees J.Hamelink (The Netherlands), Jean-Pierre Deru (Belgium), Aleksandra Uzelac (Croatia), Keyan Tomaselli (South Africa), Aggrey Brown (Jamaica), Vera Turković (Croatia), Corina Suteu (Romania), Henry Cheruiyot Changwony (Kenya), Tamara Lapteva (Russia), Jennifer Jennings (Irland), Y. R. Isar (France), Willy Fache (Belgium), Erika Block (USA), Nina Obuljen (Croatia), Mate Kovacs (Hungary), Ritva Mitchell (Finland), Josef Langer (Austria), Dona Kolar-Panov (Macedonia), Delia Mucica (Romania), Lidia Varbanova (Bulgaria).

2.   Research

Culturelink takes part in research activities undertaken by Unesco (the World Report on Cultural Diversity due in 2008, for example) and the Council of Europe (e.g., the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends as an ongoing project), as well as by international networks (e.g., ELIA on the topic of art and education, LabforCulture, on-the-move, CultureMondo, etc.).

In the period 2005-2006, one of the most important studies, conducted in cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE), was the one for the needs of the SEE Regional Summit Forum entitled Communication of Heritage: New Vision of Southeastern Europe. The new vision sees Southeastern Europe as a modern, dynamic European region. The implementation of this concept requires a complete transformation of SEE societies, their economic and overall development and their functional involvement in the international exchange and development. Though Southeastern Europe has not yet been constituted entirely as a region in the modern sense, various forms of interrelations are being developed, from the promotion of mutual trade and common development projects, to the renewed establishment of cultural ties and exchange. The main impulse for the development and the implementation of the concepts of a modern European region comes from science and culture, based on inherited cultural and intellectual values.

3.   International Conferences

The past period has been marked by two international conferences organized by Culturelink in cooperation with partner networks:

Second World Culturelink Conference: Dynamics of Communication – New Ways and New Actors, Zagreb, Croatia, 9-12 June 2005, in cooperation with Circle, OCPA, the University of Navarra.

The Second World Culturelink Conference was devoted to the dynamics of communication in a world marked by rapid changes. These changes, especially under the influence of ever newer information and communication technologies, change the very ways of communication. Thus, new ways and new actors of communication were at the heart of discussions, as well as the role of networks in the promotion of intercultural dialogue and cooperation. Over 150 experts from 37 countries have highlighted the new role of cultural policies, warned about new digital divides, and stressed the impressive emergence of new actors in communication, especially the role of civil society, all of which announces a restructuring of the global cultural space. Numerous reports of the conference were published in foreign magazines, electronic bulletins and the press. Via live video streaming, the event was followed at the Council of Europe, Unesco and various other international organizations.

Cultural Portals: A New Era of Cooperation, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 20-22 October 2006, in cooperation with CultureMondo, Canada.

Over 50 experts at the round table represented some 40-odd cultural portals from Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. The two-day event opened a broad discussion about the typology of cultural portals, new Web 2.0 technologies, cultural networks in the virtual sphere, and the measures of success. Presentations of cultural portals offered a better insight into their activities and opened new paths of cooperation among them.

4.   Information Infrastructure

Culturelink WWW Resource Centre

Having marked the tenth anniversary of the establishment of its website in September 2006, the Culturelink Network runs a successful static WWW Resource Centre of global significance. Aiming to develop appropriate means of communication and speed up the flow of information among its more than 1000 members from over 110 countries worldwide, this information system gives access to the textual Cultural Policy Database, the Database of Institutions and Networks in the Field of Cultural Development and the interactive Culturelink Members and Partners Database, to results of joint research projects and proceedings from conferences and seminars it organizes, to relevant networking and members' news, a chronological diary of currently announced international events (meetings, conferences, round table discussions and courses), reviews of recent publications and links to just under 400 selected cultural e-resources.

Between 2005 and 2006 the Culturelink WWW Resource Centre was expanded with detailed information about 180 events and 220 announcements of members' scientific and expert activities. Five new freely accessible e-books were made fully available in PDF format.

C-News

In the course of 2005-2006, the electronic newsletter C-News, established in 2004, has been promoted from an irregularly published newsletter from the field of cultural development, to a regular monthly service announcing calls for participation in joint projects or expert courses, scientific conferences and members' networking news. 19 issues have appeared in this period, distributed to some 1300 members and subscribers worldwide. The Network has thus opened its web space to its members, offering a dedicated forum for the announcement of their news and information.

Web Access Statistics

Through its continued content development in the period of 2005-2006, the number of pages of the Resource Centre has grown from 550 to currently over 950 static web pages. The Culturelink website currently registers on the average over 75.000 pageviews from around 25.000 visitors monthly, while the search mechanism is employed for some 2.500 enquiries a month. In the period under review, the site was visited by users from over 170 countries worldwide, generating a data transfer of 30 GB.

Owing to its long-term continuity, the Culturelink website reaches exceptionally high rankings in search results from major search engines such as Google and Yahoo!, making a top-ten rank among hundreds of thousands of results for general expressions such as "cultural transitions", "cultural policy" and "cultural development".

5.   Web Projects

OCPA WWW Resource Centre

Set up as a key service-oriented resource centre for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on new concepts, challenges, experiences and examples of cultural policy and development in Africa, the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA) established its regional information gateway function through the OCPA website development project, a task entrusted to the Culturelink Network. Having initially elaborated the concept and design of the OCPA WWW Resource Centre in 2001 through a comprehensive web development project, Culturelink continually cooperates with OCPA in its implementation and the regular updating of existing and development of new information services.

At the beginning of 2006, a fundamental redesign of the pages to include the Observatory's new logo developed in 2004, a reconstruction and consolidation of the existing content layout, and the development of further information services was undertaken. In the course of 2005-2006, the resource centre grew from 90 to some 150 web pages, visited by users from 140 countries worldwide – the around 6.000 monthly visitors generate an average of 18.000 pageviews. At the same time the number of posted full cultural policy documents (cultural policies, working papers, reports, conclusions and recommendations from scientific and expert meetings) grew from 140 to over 240 PDF documents.

6.   Financing

In the past period, Culturelink's main sources of financing were the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, and the City of Zagreb, which have largely supported the organization of the Second World Culturelink Conference and the Network's publishing activities. Modest financial support came from Culturelink's founders, Unesco and the Council of Europe. The Network's activities were also supported by domestic and foreign foundations, such as the Foundation of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Dutch HIVOS, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and foreign cultural centres and embassies in Croatia.

III.  Programme for 2007-2008

1.   The Network as a Process

The Culturelink Network needs to be understood as a process, not a product, meaning that it is open to change, to initiating new research themes, to new challenges in communication, the use of new technologies and digitalization. Its activities are aimed at an advanced and better balanced exchange and cooperation among cultures, especially concerning the relations between developed and underdeveloped regions of the world.

2.   Research

In the framework of the project Cultural Diversity, Intercultural Communication and Digital Culture, financed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Croatia in the period 2007-2010, use will be made of the wide-ranging possibilities of the Culturelink Network. As stated in the (adopted) project proposal, 'owing to the Culturelink Netork, new forms of joint research in the virtual space will be developed', 'empirical research will be conducted through Culturelink, and the 'research results and outcomes will be continuously verified through the Network'. In the first phase (2007/2008), the project will concentrate around the analysis of modern transformations of cultural diversity (the changes caused by new transnational and transcultural relations, new approaches to cultural policies, the importance of intercultural education), intercultural communication (the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, cultural goods and services as a basis for a better balanced communication and interaction), and especially the impact of digital culture on the dynamics of cultural diversity and intercultural communication (new phenomena brought on by the rapidly developing digital culture).

The effort will be undertaken to implement this project within the framework of activities of Unesco and Council of Europe, the founders of the Culturelink Network.

3.   Publishing Activities

The Creative City: Crossing Visions and New Realities in the Region, Culturelink Joint Publications Series, No.11, editor Nada Švob-Đokić. The book has been published at the beginning of 2007.

Proceedings publishing papers by international and domestic experts on digital culture will be prepared, analyzing new trends and case studies from several countries under the title eCulture – the Changing Dynamics.

The publication of a monograph devoted to the Zagreb school of cultural policy research. A group of expert researchers in the field of cultural policies has been working in Zagreb for a number of years, leading to what is rightfully perceived as the 'Zagreb school', which in the 1990's arose from the research work undertaken for Unesco's cultural policies project (whose model was later taken over by the Compendium project) and the elaboration of the cultural policy of Croatia and other cultural policy profiles for the Council of Europe, as well as from papers given at meetings organized by the European Commission in recent year. In addition to the Institute's research staff, members of the permanent team of external collaborators (Vjeran Katunarić, Žarko Paić, Dubravko Škiljan and others) will be invited to contribute to this monograph.

4.   International Conferences

A conference on Virtual Culture and Its Impact on Cultural Tourism in Southeastern Europe is planned, to be held in June 2007 with the support of UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE). The event will present best practice examples from all countries of the region. The publication of a book on this topic, based on the results of joint research in the region, is also planned.

5.   Culturelink WWW Resource Centre Development

The long-term objective of the Culturelink Network is the development of a world-wide information system for the study of cultural development and cooperation, not only allowing the use of online databases but also making possible the interactive participation in Internet conferences.

With its 950 static Web pages, the Culturelink WWW Resource Centre has reached the limits of its technical maintainability and content manageability. In order to ensure its regular updating and future enlargement, the process of preparation and formatting of the daily content needs to be automated and its management has to be dynamized. A dynamic content management system is to both facilitate the internal production through the management of tasks and the organization of resources, and to allow the filtering of the overall website content to generate a personalized user's view of relevant data. A content management system would at the same time significantly enhance the functionality of the existing diary of scientific conferences and the regular networking news announcements, facilitating their timely publication. This system would also provide a search mechanism for the entire site, including the full-text search of PDF and MS Word documents.

The existing offline Bibliographical Database, which holds data on documents and publications from the field of cultural development, is planned to be set up as an interactive database freely accessible online.

The monthly publication and distribution of the electronic newsletter C-News will be continued.

6.   OCPA WWW Resource Centre Development

Plans for the future development of the OCPA WWW Resource Centre include the move from static to dynamic web pages set up through a content management system, essentially keeping the existing design. The large number of available documents calls for a new classification and organization model, while the growing quantity of links requires a clear structure of hierarchical categories.

IV. Conclusion

This Report on the Activities of the Culturelink Network in 2005-2006 and Programme for 2007-2008 has been drawn up in an abridged form, offering only a summary of the most important activities and initiatives. They nevertheless highlight the wide extent of Culturelink Network's activities, its contribution to furthering intercultural communication and cooperation worldwide, the research of new cultural phenomena and the establishment of infrastructural information systems in the field of culture. The Culturelink Network aims to be what best describes the term network – a dynamic system of communication, cooperation and partnership, whose work is characterized by flexibility, heterogeneity and openness.

Biserka Cvjetičanin
Culturelink Director