Decision of the Bureau: 9.COM 4.BUR 1.1

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives, concerning the approval of international assistance requests,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/14/9.COM 4.BUR/1 as well as the international assistance request 00840,
  3. Takes note that Argentina has requested international assistance in the amount of US$24,100 for a project entitled ‘Recovery of phonograms and oral memory of Tango in Buenos Aires’:

Despite its global popularity, tango faces a number of threats such as the significant shortage of academic studies, research and basic records, the progressive deterioration of musical scores and phonograms or the rising interest of foreign collectors in acquiring and expatriating rare tango recordings. The proposed project focuses on two aspects considered to be among the most endangered: sound recordings from the period known as Guardia Vieja (before 1920) and oral testimonies from the generation of the ‘golden age’ of tango (1935-1955). To be undertaken by the Argentinian Forum and Cultural Studies Centre (Centro’feca), the project aims at safeguarding phonograms and oral testimonies of tango, ensuring their availability to the public and raising public awareness on threats facing tango and the importance of safeguarding it. The project consists of three components: digitization and editing of phonograms and production of CDs, conducting interviews about the ‘golden age’ of tango by tango history students and organizing awareness-raising and training workshops in cultural centres, neighbourhood clubs and primary and secondary schools.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in file 00840, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in Paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives: 
    1. The conception and feasibility of the proposed activities (criterion A.3) can be questioned, their contribution to the continued practice and transmission of tango not being clearly demonstrated in the request, which puts a strong emphasis on research and documentation without demonstrating how they will ensure the viability of the tango as living expression. The identified risks are not described as threatening the viability of tango as a practice but rather a corpus of sound archives and testimonies. The request therefore fails to demonstrate that the proposed activities (i.e. the preservation of these documents) are well conceived to strengthen the ‘practice and the transmission of the knowledge about tango to the Tango community’. The level of generality of some of the information provided does not allow the reader to determine the feasibility of the proposed activities or assess how could effectively contribute to ensuring the present and future practice and transmission of the ‘wide range of customs, beliefs and rituals’ that are embodied in tango. The request is missing explanation of how the preserved recordings and interviews will feed back into contemporary practices of tango. Considering that the two first components of the project are the collection and systematization of a memory of tango that is at risk because of technical reasons relating to the quality of the old recordings and because of the old age of members of the golden generation, the proposed sequence of activities seems problematic. For instance, the workshops that could effectively benefit from the collected materials are planned to start in the seventh month of implementation while audio digitization will still be underway and interview editing will not yet have started.
    2. Projected expenses are not expressed with enough specificity and detail to provide sufficient justification, to allow actual expenses to be matched directly against the projections or to provide adequate justification of the amounts requested. In general, the budgetary information provided does not allow the Bureau to assess the appropriateness of the amount requested (criterion A.2). The request does not show in precise detail which costs will be fully borne by Centro’feca and which will be paid from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund (criterion A.5).
    3. Although the request provides some information about those who might be associated indirectly or related to tango in general, the communities who would be effectively involved in the project for which the assistance is sought are not clearly identified. The community referred to throughout the request is so wide and varied that the reader has trouble understanding the involvement of each of the constituencies (musicians, dancers, researchers, organizers and employees of neighbourhood clubs) in the preparation of the request and in the future implementation of the proposed activities (criterion A.1). Instead, the information provided seems to focus on those whose testimony and inputs will be obtained and gathered and to leave the actual implementation of the activities in the hands of the implementing organization and its partners.
    4. The project’s potential to have lasting results (criterion A.4) or to reinforce capacities in the field of intangible cultural heritage (criterion A.6) is not addressed concretely but rather in a general manner that is not easily traceable to the proposed activities. For example, a ‘general inventory of tango’ is mentioned as a major asset for the capacity-building of stakeholders involved in the project and for its sustainability after the funding ends, but it does not seem to be related to the project objectives as described. Likewise, enabling the design and implementation of public policies is mentioned as a possible impact that the project may have for cultural centres, neighbourhood clubs and milonga organizers, but the reader cannot link this with the rest of the information provided, since the project does not seem to consider training in public policy development.
    5. With regard to previously financed activities (criterion A.7), Argentina benefitted from a UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project ‘Strengthening national capacities for effective safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay’ (2012-2014); in that framework, the work stipulated by the contract with Centro’feca related to this project was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s regulations.
5. Decides not to approve the international assistance request from Argentina for ‘Recovery of phonograms and oral memory of Tango in Buenos Aires’.