Local and International Heritage News

Manhattan Dealer Nancy Wiener Arrested: Criminal Complaint Alleges Sweeping Conspiracy to Sell Stolen Asian Art Through Major Auction Houses

Antiquities dealer Nancy Wiener was arrested Wednesday morning in Manhattan and charged with conspiring with international smuggling networks to buy, smuggle, launder and sell millions of dollars worth of stolen Asian art thru leading auction houses.

Wiener is a second generation dealer who runs one of the country’s most prestigious Asian art galleries on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. For nearly three decades, the Nancy Wiener Gallery has sold Asian art to private collectors and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Asia Society, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the National Gallery of Australia and the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.

For the full article, click here for the blog "Chasing Aphrodite".

World Culture Forum - 2016

World Culture Forum 2016 I Key outcomes

Contributed by: Anupama Sekhar
Date Posted: Tuesday, 25th October 2016

The recently concluded second edition of the World Culture Forum (WCF) – organised this October in Bali by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia with UNESCO’s support – attempted to reaffirm the important role of culture in ensuring inclusive and sustainable development. Over 700 participants (with a reassuring majority from Asia) gathered for 3 days of discussions on rural sustainability, environmental ethics, digitisation and cultural diversity, among other topics.

Speakers included Ridwan KAMIL, architect and currently, Mayor of Bandung, Indonesia; Celio TURINO, architect of Brazil’s well-known Cultura Viva policy that resulted in 2,000 Culture Points scattered  over 1000 municipalities benefiting more than 8 million people; award-winning Indonesian environmental activist, Aleta BAUN, leader of the indigenous Mollo people; and, Acehnese journalist Shadia Marhaban, the only female member of the successful peace talks between the Free Aceh Movement and the Government of Indonesia in 2005.


#1: Culture as a fundamental basis for sustainable development


Over 700 participants gathered for 2 days of discussions in 6 symposia on rural sustainability, environmental ethics, digitisation and cultural diversity, among others

Despite the growing acknowledgment, in recent years, of the importance of culture in development, the release of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs and 169 Targets by the United Nations in September 2015 revealed the need to renew calls for the mainstreaming of culture in all lines of development.

WCF 2016 attempted to reaffirm this through the 10-point Bali Declaration, which will form the basis of a Framework for Action to be presented alongside the 39th Session of UNESCO General Assembly in October 2017. Throughout the Forum, panelists and participants unequivocally and repeatedly acknowledged that culture should not be treated as a mere commodity, but respected as a system of ideas, values, motivations and skills that bear tremendous value in ensuring that development is managed sustainably and inclusively. The conversations in Bali also particularly highlighted the backdrop of contemporary crises such as climate change, the rise of religio-political radicalism, and intergenerational detachment – all of which suggest a need to reframe existing development models and recover damaged relationships.

Echoes of these conversations were also heard at the 7th World Summit on Arts & Culture (19-21 October 2016, Valleta, Malta), organised by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies/IFACCA and Arts Council Malta. Writing in the Summit’s Discussion Paper, current Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines, Felipe M. De Leon, Jr. called for the revitalisation of communal creativity for a sustainable future:

Today, the economistic imperative that prevails in many nations effectively undermines cultural creativity for it conditions, and even limits, cultural production to that which is marketable and quantifiable. […] Under such a mindset, many values, especially sacred values, that cannot be reckoned in monetary terms are ignored or undermined. […] In general, there is a devaluing of intangible and spiritual qualities such as character, sense of honour and dignity, integrity, sincerity, moral excellence, inner virtues, spiritual love, wisdom and creative imagination in favour of wealth, consumerism, possessions, power, and industrial work ethic, conformity, efficiency, mass production, and mass entertainment.


 #2: Rediscover and reaffirm local wisdom


Local wisdom and developmental solutions were highlighted: the example of Bali’s subak cooperative water management system of canals and weirs was shared as an example

The dynamics between local wisdom and global values were strongly articulated during WCF.

On the specific issue of water supply and management, for example, the traditional systems of Subak (Bali, Indonesia) and Qanats (Iran) – both irrigation management systems – were shared. While developed under different climatic contexts, they share interesting similarities in that they were both developed with due consideration to the socio-cultural environment and to the participation and ethical values of their respective user communities. Both systems have stood the test of time and continue to be used today.

More generally, this points to a need to re-look at our traditional cultures for good practices specifically developed to balance the interaction between man and nature, maintain the crucial societal and ecological conditions necessary for human safety and security, and subsequently seek developmental solutions that preserve and strengthen the resilience of the self-regenerating capacity of the natural environment.


#3: Digital technology as a viable medium of choice for bridging gaps


Digital technology can bridge gaps, including by personalised education services: Belva Devara, founder & CEO of Ruangguru.com

While not a panacea for developmental challenges, digital technology can play specific and targeted roles in the solution chain. Google Cultural Institute, Europeana, and Ruangguru.com were presented as models of projects that could possibly demonstrate how digital technology can enable cultural material to be open and shared en masse, help overcome physical barriers, and create exciting new culture and impact.

At the same time, this small contribution to inspiring peoples and communities cannot yet fully replace the cultural experience. Rather, the purpose of digitisation is to fill a specific gap by offering an easier, more convenient alternative for those who otherwise would not be as likely to physically access culture.

Strategies for more effectively harnessing digital technology for culture and development include keeping the digital material usable and reliable, making it open source, free-to-use and collaborative, understanding what an authentic and immersive experience would be like and using technology to emulate it, and gamification to make the material more engaging for users with short attention spans.

The importance of data-driven policymaking was also strongly highlighted, with digital technology being a key enabler of widespread and reliable data on user needs and behaviours, as well as for effective monitoring and evaluation of project outcomes.


#4: Leadership at the local level critical for sustainable transformations

Panelists and participants discussed that cultural leadership not only functions at the level of visioning futures and charting directions, it is also about harnessing and mobilising the diverse voices of the people (i.e. traditional and local wisdom as well as the wisdom of the crowd) to solve collective problems. This requires leaders who are well attuned to the signs of nature, understand the socio-cultural ecosystems in which they operate, and the people with whom they interact. They may therefore not always be people formally instituted to perform a leadership function, but can be instead developed over time from the ground up.

Respect for autonomy and ownership of culture can often be empowering forces for sustainable development at the local level. A new water management programme in Japan, for instance, encourages consensus-building and ownership through village societies and activity societies, and works by focusing on the different motivations of different sub-groups within the community in order to mobilise both farmers and non-farmers alike.


Young people were very visible at WCF 2016, including as artists performing at the Grand Plenary

The leadership of young people was also acknowledged at WCF through the organisation of the International Youth Forum (9-14 October, Bali) in parallel with the culture forum. The Youth Forum gathered over 150 young people from 35 countries in a cultural village in Bali for an activity-based programme that included challenging conversations on youth activism and deconstructing youth as threat.

Cultural leadership was the subject of discussion at another global gathering this October: the 7th World Summit on Arts & Culture in Malta. The Summit in Malta also reiterated the idea of a ‘culture of leadership’ that goes beyond one’s institution, government or country and instead, enables more actors at the local level with agency to make real change, including through ‘shared leadership’ models. The urgent need for the arts sector to actively engage & build alliances with other civil society actors (including sustainable development and environment) was also strongly underlined in Malta and finds echoes with the conversations in Bali.

This report of the World Culture Forum 2016 was commissioned by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and written by Daniel HO Sheng with inputs from Anupama SEKHAR.
It was copied from the ASEF website with permission of Anupama Sekhar.

UNESCO Global Report, Culture: Urban Future

Culture gives cities social and economic power, shows UNESCO report

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Culture has the power to make cities more prosperous, safer, and sustainable, according to UNESCO’s Global Report, Culture: Urban Future to be launched in Quito (Ecuador) on 18 October. The Global Report presents evidence on how development policies in line with UNESCO’s conventions on the protection and promotion of culture and heritage can benefit cities.

The Report will be released at an event with UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin, at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), where decision-makers will gather to adopt a New Urban Agenda.

Current trends show that urbanization will continue to increase in scale and speed, particularly in Africa and Asia, which are set to be 54 and 64 percent urban by 2050. The world is projected to have 41 mega cities by 2030, each home to at least 10 million people. Massive and rapid urbanization can often exacerbate challenges for cities creating more slums and poor access to public spaces as well as having a negative impact on the environment. This process often leads to a rise in unemployment, social inequality, discrimination and violence.


As the United Nations works to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the timing is crucial to implement the best policies to strengthen cities, notably with regard to Sustainable Development Goal 11, which, which calls for inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements and cities.

The Report analyzes the situation, threats and opportunities in different regional contexts, and presents a global picture of tangible and intangible urban heritage conservation and safeguarding, along with the promotion of cultural and creative industries, as a basis for sustainable urban development. It also highlights the conservation and tourist management challenges facing urban areas inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, which make up nearly one-third of the 1,052 sites on the List.

The Report also identifies several innovative strategies for the preservation of housing in historic areas, essential to communities’ identity and wellbeing. For example, in Quito (Ecuador), public subsidies have been given to owners to restore residential buildings and forestall the gentrification of historic areas.


Key recommendations in the Report include a range of measures aim to: recognize and promote cultural diversity for cities, integrate culture to counter urban violence, ensure investment to enhance culture, cultural heritage and creativity in urban planning.


More information :http://en.unesco.org/sustainable-cities

(Article copied from the UNESCO website)

IUCN - Nature Culture Journey 2016

The Nature-Culture Journey of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress concluded with a call for commitments, “Malama Honua - to care for our island Earth”. It recognizes the nature-culture links as vital for addressing contemporary conservation challenges.

The 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, which took place in Honolulu, Hawai’i from 1 to 10 September 2016, was attended by some 10,000 participants from governments, civil society, indigenous, faith and spiritual communities, the private sector, and academia.

The ten-day congress featured over 1,000 events covering 22 different themes. The Nature-Culture Journey was jointly coordinated by IUCN and ICOMOS with the assistance of US/ICOMOS and in collaboration with UNESCO and other partners. The Journey was organized for the first time as a companion to the World Heritage Journey.

Inspired by the debates and deliberations of the Journey, the participants adopted a joint statement of commitments, “Mālama Honua – to care for our island Earth”. The Hawaiian expression, Mālama Honua, means “to take care of and protect everything that makes up our world: land, oceans, living beings, our cultures, and our communities”.

The statement calls upon actors from nature and culture sectors to work together to address a number of urgent global challenges, by adopting integrated nature-culture solutions to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the forthcoming Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda.

The statement also recognizes UNESCO’s contributions to setting global standards linking nature and culture for effective and holistic conservation policy and practice, including through the World Heritage Convention, which explicitly recognizes heritage as both natural and cultural.

Nature-Culture Journey

The Nature-Culture Journey builds on the growing evidence that natural and cultural heritage are closely interconnected in most landscapes and seascapes, and that effective and lasting conservation of such places requires a more effective integration of approaches.

Over 50 events were featured at the Nature-Culture Journey and the World Heritage Journey, providing an opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to exchange knowledge and practices that could further advance the interconnectedness of nature and culture in the conservation and management of places important to people around the world.

Find out more:

World Heritage and Nature-Culture Journey at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

UNESCO World Heritage Review n°79 “Planet at the Crossroads”

UNESCO World Heritage Review n°75 “Culture-Nature Links”

(copied from UNESCO website)

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