“The global nature of the COVID-19 crisis is a call for the international community to reinvest in international cooperation and intergovernmental dialogue,” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

Logo of the UNESCO COVID-19 Culture Response Action Plan

“UNESCO is committed to leading a global discussion on how best to support artists and cultural institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and ensure everyone can stay in touch with the heritage and culture that connects them to their humanity.” A. Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

In response to this worldwide crisis, UNESCO is taking action in four key areas:

  1. Sharing Culture
  2. Assessing the Impact
  3. Support for Artists & Cultural Professionals
  4. Building Capacity

The first area aims to enhance visibility, ensure continued access to culture, improve understanding of the role of living cultural heritage in emergencies and integrating it into national responses to COVID-19.

On 9 April, UNESCO launched a global social media campaign, #ShareOurHeritage to promote access to culture and education pertaining to cultural heritage. This awareness campaign encompasses information related to both tangible and living heritage, as well as other UNESCO designations. Among others, the campaign makes available a map of the impact of COVID-19 on access to World Heritage sites, monitoring closures on a daily basis, sharing testimonials and video interviews of UNESCO sites managers concerning the impact of COVID-19 on World Heritage sites and their surrounding communities. Once the immediate crisis has passed, the ‘ShareOurHeritage’ campaign will continue in the form of a reflection on cultural tourism following the crisis and the impact on the sustainable development of communities

The second area explores the impact assessment on the cultural sector and support for public policies to mobilize Member States, intergovernmental organizations, development banks and cultural institutions, map public policy measures and integrate culture into national post-crisis measures. In line with this approach, UNESCO organised online meetings on COVID-19’s impact on the culture sector:

  • The first – on 17 April – gathered partners including key intergovernmental organizations and development banks from all regions of the world, to address the impact of COVID-19 and strengthen regional and interregional cooperation on the promotion of culture for recovery.
  • On 22 April, UNESCO brought together over 130 Ministers and Vice-Ministers of Culture to share the impact of the pandemic on culture at the national level, as well as measures to respond to it; in particular, they discussed actions to bolster the cultural sector, in consideration of the unprecedented crisis faced by the sector in all its aspects due to to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now, more than ever, people need culture,” said Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Culture. “Culture makes us resilient. It gives us hope. It reminds us that we are not alone. That is why UNESCO is doing all it can to support culture, to safeguard our heritage and empower artists and creators, now and after this crisis has passed.”

An interesting tool created in response to the effects of the pandemic was made available through: Culture & COVID-19: Impact & Response Tracker, a weekly bulletin on the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector and the measures taken by Member States that is shared with the UNESCO Field Offices, and accessible in English and French on the UNESCO Culture and COVID-19 web page. In addition, UNESCO-ICOM launched a survey with museums and museum professionals to analyse the impact of the pandemic and the closure of museum institutions worldwide with a view to developing support measures for the sector.

The third area of the UNESCO action plan concerns the mobilisation of the international community to support artists and the creative sector, promote knowledge exchange and identify support measures for creative professionals. In this framework, UNESCO promotes a survey among intangible cultural heritage practitioners and communities on the impact of the crisis on living heritage and its role to help cope with the pandemic. The results of this survey will allow practitioners to exchange knowledge and contribute to UNESCO’s response.

The fourth area consists in the promotion of capacity-building measures and resources to safeguard cultural heritage in order to support professionals and practitioners in safeguarding cultural heritage, provide expertise, resources and strengthen capacities.  In this sense, UNESCO develops and promotes online training tools for the police and military to protect cultural sites in the absence of cultural heritage professionals. In addition, the UNESCO Culture Roster will be made available to facilitate remote expert consultations with registered professionals during emergencies. In support of these measures, UNESCO provides free access to resources on safeguarding living heritage, namely capacity-building material and the UNESCO platform ‘Dive into living heritage’.

More detailed information on UNESCO COVID-19 RESPONSE dedicated page https://en.unesco.org/covid19