Forward-looking arts and culture policy needed in Nam

15 Apr 2015 09:20am
WINDHOEK, 14 APR (NAMPA) - Namibia Library and Archive Services advisor Werner Hillebrecht says a forward-looking policy for arts and culture should concentrate on the promotion of the diverse spectrum of popular Namibian music.
Hillebrecht said this while giving a presentation on issues of patents, intellectual property and copyright in Namibia at the Cultural Heritage and Creative Arts National Conference underway in the capital.
He said Namibian music is rich because it draws on both traditional elements and international influences, adding that the rights of artistic producers should be better protected.
Hillebrecht explained that Namibian music is currently only promoted through the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs), and suggested that an online cultural portal be created where artists would be able to promote, showcase and sell cultural products, be it music, movies, books , photographs or artwork.
He further stated that the current Namibian Copyright Act of 1994 is not only difficult to understand, but also deficient and hopelessly outdated in technical terms, although it was probably sufficient 20 years ago.
Topics such as the Internet and other features of digital technology are not covered by this law.
The other issue that should be taken up in a culture policy and in a revision of the Copyright Act is the preservation of the country's cultural heritage, he said.
Hillebrecht also said Namibia's sound and audiovisual heritage is seriously threatened by technical issues such as the chemical deterioration of films, videos and tapes.
“There is a huge task of digitalisation ahead and a race against time to do this before the tapes have crumbled to pieces and before the last playback head of the video machine has worn out,” he stated.
According to Hillebrecht, there are currently 2 000 video tapes waiting to be digitalised at the National Archives of Namibia, but there is no equipment or staff available to do this.
The advisor explained that this urgent digitisation needs to be done with the permission of the copyright holder. However, Namibia has a similar problem to other libraries across the world - “orphan works” for which no rights holders can be found.
“In the interest of preserving our heritage, it is imperative to allow heritage institutions to fulfill their task by appropriate exemptions, either in the Copyright Act or by relevant provisions in the Act governing libraries archives and museums,” he said.
The conference, which commenced on Monday, is being held under the theme “Arts and Culture is the Seed for Social Change and Transformation”, and is aimed at developing a national strategy for the development of arts, culture and heritage.
It ends on Friday.