2014 ICCN GA and Festival Report(Oct. 8-12, 2014, Esfahan, Iran)

2014 ICCN GA and Festival Report(Oct. 8-12, 2014, Esfahan, Iran)
2014 ICCN GA and Festival Report
Venue for municipal government, NGOs, experts and local residents to come together
By the Secretariat

Inter-City Intangible Cultural Cooperation Network (ICCN), cooperating with the municipal government of the city of Isfahan, Iran, held 2014 ICCN General Assembly, Women’s Forum and Festival in the city of Isfahan, Iran from October 8 to 12 under the theme of “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Process of Urbanization.” Eighteen countries including Spain, India, Czech, France, Brazil, Palestine, Croatia, and Republic of Korea along with other ICCN member organizations, Iranian organizations, UNESCO and many experts participated in the General Assembly and the Festival.

Distinguished guests from home and abroad including H.E. Dr. Molaverdi, Vice-President for Family and Women’s Affairs, Dr. R. Zargar, Governor General of Isfahan Province and Dr. S.M. Saghaeianneja, Mayor of Isfahan joined the opening ceremony of the Festival on Oct. 9.

For ICCN General Assembly, which was held on Oct. 10 and 11, scholars and experts in the fields of culture and tourism participated along with ICCN members. During the General Assembly, Professor J. Jaafari from Wisconsin University gave a speech on the theme of “Utilizing Intangible Culture in Tourism,” and emphasized that tourism policies should be revisited and revised from tourist-oriented policy to resident-oriented one. Dr. Jaafari took an example of Denmark and enlightened everyone that places where residents are happy and satisfied are the ones that tourist love. Also, Professor A. Galla of Inclusive Museum stressed that festivals serve functions of learning, enjoying and safeguarding cultural heritage and should always put local residents first while sustainable development must be the priority when it comes to policies for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Professor S. Baghirova, a UNESCO Expert from Azerbaijan shared her point on preserving intangible cultural heritage beyond the national framework through the case of the traditional oral musical heritage of Azerbaijan and how to transfer to the next generation. There are also other good experiences from Iran and other ICCN members as followed;

  • Rural vs. Urban: Traditional vs. Choreographed, the Croatian example by Professor V. Ljubmir, Dubrovnik and Linjo Ensemble, Croatia
  • Prescription: Disadvantages regarding ICH by Dr. Y. Parmoun, Regional Research Center for the Safeguarding of ICH in the West and Central Asian, Iran
  • Role of Folk Festival in preserving ICH: A case study of Kerala State in India by Dr. V. Jayarajan, Folkland, India
  • The influence of Muslim culture on the Festivity of Algemesi by Mr. Gabriel Palop Sarrias and Julio Blasco Nacher, City Councilor, Algemesi, Spain
  • The Role of ICH in environmental sustainable protection in Iran by Dr. Farhad Nazari, Director general of Department for inscription of Natural, Historical and Intangible heritage, ICHTO, Iran
  • Living Heritage from Al-andalus in Spain: the Acequia irrigation systems of the Valencia region by Mr. Luis Pablo Martinez, Pusol Museum, Elche, Spain

The second day of ICCN GA was dedicated to discuss many items on the agenda for better future of ICCN.

Deputy Mayor Mr. Ji Young Kim declared the opening of GA as a chairperson and the entire conference lasted for four hours. The first item on the agenda was to form the new committee of GA. ICCN’s new vision and mission statement based on the five values were announced. The five values of ICCN are “acceptance,” “enlightenment,” “empowerment,” “sharing,” and “integrity.” The following are the new vision and mission statement.

• Vision: Worldwide living heritage celebrated and communities empowered
• Mission Statement:

  1. To cooperate with local authorities/cities for equal and friendly sharing of living heritage
  2. To realize the well being of communities with local culture

This year’s General Assembly focused on the discussion on the roles and qualifications of the Board of Directors, and decision was made to put greater responsibilities and roles on the Board of Directors. The total of nine members was selected as the Board of Directors to serve a two-year term until 2016 General Assembly. Cities of Gangneung and Isfahan are included as Official Members and the cities and organizations of Xochimilco (Mexico), Algemesi (Spain), Monreale (Italy), Vlcnov (Czech), Shiraz (Iran), FACM (Algeria) and ANCT (France) became the new members. As can be seen, two of the nine board members are associate members, which show ICCN’s efforts to listen to the voices of both municipal governments and NGOs.

Discussions on the membership fee and its usage led to the allocation of the fee towards 1) ICCN Projects, 2) Secretariat for operational cost, and 3) monetary support for members in developing countries to participate in conferences.

For new members, four Full Members from Italy, Israel and Croatia and 11 Associate Members joined ICCN as temporary members. The approval for permanent membership will be granted in 2015 Conference after final review.
Also, the plan to form an advisory committee was approved. ICCN will be able to seek advice when necessary, but no separate conferences will be held considering financial situation. This advisory committee will consist of experts from various fields.

2015 ICCN Conference will be co-hosted by FACM and Tlemcen in Algeria. Algemesi of Spain and three cities of Italy (Monreale, Catania and Modica) as a coalition applied to host 2016 ICCN GA and Festival, so the final decision will be made by early 2015. For 2017 Conference, Shiraz and Nishabour of Iran both applied to become a host. So, the final decision will be made during the Board of Director meeting in 2015.

Continuing from the very first Festival held in Gangneung in 2012, the 2nd ICCN Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival was held this year. ICCN members and cities of Iran participated in the Festival and the entire city of Isfahan was filled with cultural exhibition, performances and plays. As a host country, Iran introduced its great culture in many forms. They exhibited the transformation of Iranian traditional clothes over time, and introduced their folk plays and oral tradition. Exhibitions that attracted a lot of people were embroidery exhibition from 31 Iranian states and traditional food displays from 15 states. From Korea, Gangneung Danoje and Jeongseon Arirang performance teams joined the Festival.

Hosting the ICCN Festival in Iran has much significance. First, it was second global festival that was held followed by the first one in Gangneung two years ago. Second, it was the very first intangible cultural festival held in Iran in 35 years after the Islam Revolution of 1978. Third, about 30 Iranian authorities gathered together to successfully hold the Festival. Fourth, the fact that we were able to share the beautiful cultures of Persia with other participants from across the globe should be celebrated. Fifth, the city of Isfahan hopes to leverage on the Festival and boost the local economy by revitalizing the city and attracting tourists. Sixth, the Festival was held in Iran in the midst of ongoing instability in the Middle Eastern countries such as Syria and Iraq, and local governments, authorities, international organizations, Iranian government and women representatives made concerted efforts to deliver the message of peace

From Korea, representatives of the city of Gangneung, Jeongseon-gun and Gyeong-ju, Gangneung Danoje Performance team, Jeongseon Arirang Performance team, Korean National Commission for UNESCO, ICHCAP, and many experts joined the Festival in Isfahan.

During the ICCN Festival, “Night of Friendship: Iran-Korea” was hosted on Oct. 9 by Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Islamic of the Iran (Ambassador Song, Woong-Yeob). This cultural event was joined by all ICCN members and Iranian Government officials to share Korean cultures and food. Danoje and Jeongsoen Arirang, invaluable intangible cultural heritage of Gangwon Province, was performed during the event and special Korean food Samgyetang (Chicken Soup) was served. At this event, Iranian Vice President Molaverdi was also present among many other high-ranking government officials to share Korean culture and its value.

Oct. 20. 2014