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[ARCHIVO] President Bachelet enacts law creating Ministry of Cultures, the Arts and Heritage

During a ceremony held this afternoon in the Los Naranjos Patio of La Moneda Palace, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet enacted the law that creates the Ministry of Cultures, the Arts and Heritage. This new entity will be responsible for the design, formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs in order to contribute to the harmonious and equitable cultural and heritage development of Chile in all of its diversity. The Ministry will recognize and value the cultures of indigenous peoples, geographic diversity and local and regional realities and identities.

This initiative originated with the replacement indicative note issued by the President in December 2015 that sought to ensure a due process of citizen participation. This allowed for an unprecedented indigenous consultation process with the participation of nine indigenous peoples and Afro-descendent groups. It was unanimously approved on August 16, 2017.

“We are proud that this is a reality. But it is just the starting point, not the finish line. Now you, those who work in culture, the arts and heritage, and most especially the people of Chile – men and women of all ages – you are called upon to give life to the most appropriate cultural institutional structure for the 21st century. The structure that best meets the demands for participation, democracy and respect for diversity of the times in which we are living. That is the longstanding debt that we owe our country, and it is one that we have been repaying little by little”, President Bachelet stated.

The President explained that the purpose of the indicative note was to overcome institutional dispersion and fragmentation in order to address the arts, culture and heritage in a more coordinated manner; to find a new focus for areas that had not been represented in cultural institutional structure, such as folklore, popular cultures or community artistic creations; to strengthen and reinforce the value of our diversity, particularly in regard to regional identities; to create substantive spaces of citizen participation for both individual creators and groups, and to promote those spaces, particularly in regard to indigenous communities and organizations; and to reinforce the role of the State in the promotion and development of the arts, heritage, creative economy and cultural industries.
President Bachelet emphasized that “a democratic, modern, cultured State must be capable of reclaiming the idea that not everything is quantifiable or necessarily relates to earnings. Development is certainly expressed through growth, but a country’s greatness is also measured in progress towards equity, and that includes such important areas as access to reading, theater and the visual arts, to cite just a few examples. Cultural heritage does not solely exist to be exhibited in museums. It should be a living, breathing reality in people’s lives regardless of where they were born or their socio-economic status”.

In addition to the new ministry, the law creates the Department of Cultures and the Arts, the Department of Cultural Heritage, a National Council and regional councils that are integrated in a more representative manner, as well as a National Heritage Service that covers the national museums, public libraries, national film archive and other institutions.

President Bachelet noted that “behind this decision, behind this new institutional structure is the certainty that Culture, the Arts and Heritage must have a priority status in the planning of government policies. They must have a space that is just as important as education, economics, health or justice.”

Finally, the President stated that “culturally and racially diverse Chile, that is sometimes conflictive and can be both melancholic and festive, deserves a public cultural institutional structure that was at the same level as its dreams. It deserves a space to allow cultures to maintain dialogue and to help us to create, imagine and conceive of a more just, free and human Chile.”

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