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ABU conference celebrates culture as a force for unity

Almost 50 broadcasters from 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific and Europe gathered in Indonesia to demonstrate how culture – far from dividing – can be a positive force for uniting people within nations and between countries and continents.

In a keynote address to delegates at the ABU Media & Culture Days in Bali, Dr I Hendrasmo, President Director of host Radio Republik Indonesia, said the culture in the conference title should not be seen in the narrow sense as something related to the art of dance or music.

“Culture here could be interpreted in a broad sense, namely about our role in developing human civilization,” he said. And he added: “If in our last meeting in India, we talked about the role of media in time of crises, we at this moment can talk about the role of media in developing our civilization.”

Mr Mistam, Director of Programs and Production at Radio Republik Indonesia, formally welcomed delegates to the second iteration of the Media & Culture Days series co-partnered between the ABU and Radio Romania as a follow-on from the previous Media2020 series originally started to build bridges between the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

He too spoke of the unifying effect of culture and its ability to expand tolerance.

“Culture is a tool to strengthen the unity and oneness of Indonesia,” he said. “Cultural diversity is not something that breaks unity and oneness. Diversity is present in the unity of nationality, diversity is present in togetherness, and diversity is also present in the family.”

Dr Dan Santa, Director of International Relations for Radio Romania, echoed that culture was not a collection of books, nor a museum for paintings, scores or sculptures.

“Culture is a way of being,” he said. “It is the way we eat [and] the way we love. Everything we do, we feel, we act is determined by the culture and we are different also because we represent different cultures.

“There is no one culture being right and other being wrong, but many different ways to access life. We are not supposed to copy anything from different cultures, but we are really enriched if we manage to have a cultural dialogue. And it is our duty as public media to support, to promote and even to create culture and to encourage cultural dialogue.”

Mr Yasu Nagahata, the ABU Programme Director, said media and culture were inseparable.

“Most of the ABU’s program-related activities bring characteristics of each country and region,” he said. “It is essential for us living in an international society, to know, understand and respect each culture which may be very different from our own.” He added that he truly believed that media is a mirror that reflects culture, and he hoped that all delegates present will be able to provide that mirror to people around the world.

The three-day conference focused on a number of critical areas including sustainable culture and how media sustains culture; case studies from members showcasing remarkable cultural projects; how to harness new platforms to make great cultural programs; and plans for the first ever ABU cultural program exchange, supported by a cross-platform co-production. The conference also proposed creating an ABU Culture Group to drive projects year-round.