Until forty years ago, the approach on development that focuses on the accumulation of material wealth was almost the sole approach recognized universally. Within this paradigm, the progress of a country presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities. It is measured by the sum of economic value produced by that country: the Gross National Product. Today, that old paradigm is increasingly found wanting. Why become the wealthiest person in a world filled by extreme violence, inequality and collapsing biosphere? Many countries today look for culture as a way out of this abysmal reality of development-as-money-making-activities. Cultural mainstreaming slowly become the new centrepiece in the agenda for a sustainable development. For the first time, culture is seen as the upstream of a long and twisted river of development strategy. Culture is the driver and enabler of sustainable development.

In this global effort to mainstream culture, Indonesia took part by initiating World Culture Forum, an international platform for cultural mainstreaming. Bali Promise, as the result of WCF 2013, has found its way to UN General Assembly Resolution 68/223, adopted on 20 December 2013, and highlighted the power of culture as the fourth dimension of sustainable development. This resolution is further explored by WCF 2016 which results in Bali Declaration, a comprehensive view to advance the global cause of cultural mainstreaming.

Even though WCF was designed as a government-to-government platform to set the cultural mainstreaming agenda on policy-making processes across nations, there is an increasing need to simultaneously take a more grassroots approach. In order to become the norm, cultural mainstreaming must be secured by collaborative works of activists, scholars, artists, and all cultural workers. There arises a need for an international network based on people-to-people interaction which can spearhead a new, organic agenda of cultural mainstreaming from below.

Introducing IFAC

International Forum for the Advancement of Culture (IFAC) is a platform for international people-to-people collaboration to strengthen global effort on cultural mainstreaming. Designed to produce a richer perspective and a shared agenda on cultural mainstreaming, IFAC is based on the idea that cultural mainstreaming presupposes people’s initiatives to advance their cultural expressions. Whereas the role of government is to mainstream culture in all sectors of policy-making, it is the people’s role to enrich culture beyond any rigid boundaries. In order for culture to be the driver and enabler of sustainable development, people must empower their culture to solve real challenges in everyday life. With this purpose in mind that IFAC is conceived.

IFAC will consists of series of inspiring talks, parallel talk shows and discussions with the purpose to examine best practices on advancement of culture across the world, identify the actors and stakeholders, and create shared agenda and action plan for the next ten years. This event will be held at Fairmont Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia, on 10-13 October 2019, in the middle of Indonesian National Cultural Week (Pekan Kebudayaan Nasional/PKN) event. The shared agenda and action plan produced by IFAC will be developed as the main issues explored by WCF 2020. In this sense, the result of IFAC will guide the global agenda of cultural mainstreaming.

Advancement of Culture for the Well-Being of All

Everywhere in the world today culture is on the rise. Culture become a singular rallying point for many different global agendas from sustainable development to the many facets of creative sector. A good initiative in culture could spark a multiplying effect throughout the whole spectrum of civilization. There is a new awareness that environmental degradation, religious intolerance, and all forms of socio-economic injustice can be solved by culture-oriented development. Reinforced by the rising Industrial Revolution 4.0, culture-based economy which promotes diversity and creativity is increasingly seen as key to create a new society that is geared by the effort to arrive at a universal, inclusive well-being.

In light of this development, IFAC will hold as its theme “Advancement of Culture for the Well-Being of All”. The idea is that in order to plan the right move to advance culture in the spirit of cultural mainstreaming, we need to think about its end result. It is not wealth nor growth that is the end result of sustainable development; it is well-being. And not just well-being for some privileged members of society, but well-being for all human race. Furthermore, it is not merely human well-being, but also well-being for all members of biosphere. It is, in other words, a universal, inclusive well-being. This is the goal of all developmental strategy. And this is also the supreme goal of every effort in the spirit of cultural advancement and mainstreaming.

With this goal in mind, in IFAC we shall ask the big questions of our time. What is to be done and where to begin in order to create a global society where the well-being of each become the precondition for the well-being of all? What are the roles played by communities, activists, scholars, artists and private sectors to fulfil the ideal of an all-encompassing well-being? What kind of actions that we need today in order to solve the problems of inequality and collapsing biosphere on the one hand, and harness the power of industrial revolution 4.0 on the other?