Relevant legislation includes a draft Heritage Act (prepared in 2009) which includes the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage; it had not yet been enacted by the time of reporting. The national body in overall charge of intangible cultural heritage is the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) whose Comisión del Patrimonio Cultural de la Nación (CPCN, Commission for National Cultural Heritage) is in charge of planning heritage-related policies and defining general criteria for the safeguarding of cultural heritage elements. Since the ratification of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the CPCN has been in charge of its implementation through cooperation with national government authorities and departmental and local governments, as well as with civil society and international bodies. Other significant actors are the Dirección Nacional de Cultura (National Culture Directorate), which is in charge of nationwide cultural development through the promotion of cultural citizenship and the cultural rights of citizens, and the National Commission of Uruguay for UNESCO (COMINAL).
Training in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is provided through three degree courses offered at the University of the Republic: a Degree Course in the Promotion of Cultural Elements (emphasizing cultural heritage, which includes a one-semester course on intangible cultural heritage); a Diploma in Cultural Management Studies; the Postgraduate Diploma in ‘Carnival and Heritage’ (includes ethnography, documentation and recording techniques, etc.); and a Degree Course in Museology (which includes references to intangible cultural heritage).
Documentation relating to intangible cultural heritage is held at the following bodies: the Centro Nacional de Documentación Musical Lauro Ayestarán (CDM, Lauro Ayestarán National Centre for Musical Documentation), which focuses on documentation, audio and audio-visual recordings; the Centro de Investigación, Documentación y Difusión de las Artes Escénicas (CIDDAE, Centre for Research on and Documentation and Dissemination of the Performing Arts) of the Municipality of Montevideo; the State Radio and Television Broadcasting Service (audio and audio-visual recordings); and the Carnival Museum. The latter also has an online public archive with images and documents related to the history of Uruguayan Carnival.
Thus far, inventorying has been undertaken by the CPCN through two surveys of intangible cultural heritage: (1) on Traditional Celebrations of Uruguay (2007-2009); and (2) a pilot Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage to test new methods for improving community participation, covering Tango and Candombe. A National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage is being planned, to be administered by the CPCN. Although it is a national instrument, departmental governments may also identify the intangible cultural heritage present in their respective territories. The criteria for inclusion of elements on the inventory will include: that it is still practised and acts as a cultural reference for the community or cultural space; that the importance of gender and youth are taken into account in the process of transmission and revitalization of the element; that inclusion is based on dialogue with the cultural community and their agreement as to the heritage character of the element. The inventory will take into account the risks and threats to the element and current safeguarding measures and/or plans. Each regional inventory will be updated after ten years although earlier updates will be possible.
Community involvement will be built into the various stages of inventorying, including identification, selection, documentation-based research, formulating recommendations for safeguarding, etc. This will involve joint meetings and workshops and drawing up a map of actors to help to identify the institutions, organizations, groups and individuals related to each element. Non-governmental organizations will be included in the identification of intangible cultural heritage, if they are considered to be relevant actors.
As a measure to promote the function of intangible cultural heritage in society, the Programme for the Strengthening of Traditional Celebrations under the MEC National Culture Directorate (since 2007) grants direct support for organizing celebrations by contracting artists or technical and logistical services. It also designs strategies for dissemination and raising awareness among the population. The Uruguay Integrates Programme (with EU support, 2007-2015) aims at consolidating equitable development by supporting sector-oriented policies for social cohesion; it supports initiatives related to the intangible and tangible heritage. The Competitive Culture Grants programme allocates public funding to culture and arts projects and the programme has a sector-specific fund earmarked for heritage, which has been allocated to 15 intangible cultural heritage-related projects. To raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage, elements of Uruguayan intangible cultural heritage have been chosen by the CPCN as central themes of Heritage Day and practices which raises its visibility at the national, regional and municipal levels.
With regard to education, Uruguay has made much use of information and communications technologies to integrate intangible cultural heritage into school curricula. The Portal of the Ceibal Plan is aimed at supplying each primary or secondary pupil with an Internet-enabled laptop; over 600,000 laptops have already been delivered. This programme provides digital learning resources on intangible cultural heritage generally and the Tango and Candombe in particular. The portal of the National Public Education Administration (a search engine for educational resources with unrestricted access for children and young people, primary and secondary-school teachers and the families of students at all levels) also includes teaching and learning resources for intangible cultural heritage.
Public training courses in aspects of intangible cultural heritage are also on offer, e.g. on traditional styles of playing the Candombe drums. A travelling exhibition on the traditional use of medical plants has been organized. The exhibition is aimed at re-examining traditions and fostering the responsible use of medical plants, with a special focus on young people. It has visited several communities in the Rocha Department. The Arandú project used popular education techniques, play and recreational strategies and specific training in the field of digital photography and audio-visual recording. It was directed at 16-20 young people and was intended to reorient and deepen their knowledge of their communities, culture and traditions, with the help of community and group activities. These two projects were funded by the Competitive Culture Grants programme (National Culture Directorate). For capacity building in safeguarding, since 2007 a Congress on Identity and Heritage has been held by the Departmental Boards of the Council for Technical and Professional Education for secondary and vocational college students, to teach them about aspects of heritage, including intangible cultural heritage.
Uruguay has cooperated with various bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international projects and programmes. These include: the Living Heritage project (2013) promoted by UNESCO’s Cluster Office in Montevideo; the ‘Slave Route: Resistance, Freedom, Heritage’ project organized by UNESCO (since 2009); the ‘Cultural Universe of Afro-Descendants in Latin America’ project of CRESPIAL (since 2010); and the ‘Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Guaraní Nation’ project conducted by CRESPIAL with the participation of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It has also taken part in the Cultural Itinerary of the Guaraní, Moxo and Chiquito Jesuit Missions in the MERCOSUR Area initiative of the Cultural Heritage Commission of the MERCOSUR. Uruguay also enjoys bilateral cooperation with Brazil, Spain and Argentina.
Uruguay has two elements inscribed on the Representative List: Candombe and its sociocultural space: a community practice (2009); and Tango (2009, multinational with Argentina). Since their inscription, efforts have been made to promote and reinforce both these elements. In some cases, these efforts are similar: adopting legislation to dedicate a National Day to the element; creating specific bodies within government institutions (the Candombe Advisory Group in the MEC, which coordinates with the various national bodies and the Interministerial Commission for the Support of Tango, with the participation of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture and Tourism and Sports); the production and dissemination of CDs, DVDs and documentary films on the elements; and dedicating the National Music Award of the MEC to exponents of Candombe and Tango in different years.
The preparation of the present report on Tango was rendered possible by the participation of individuals, groups and/or associations and foundations through workshops, meetings and interviews. In the case of Candombe, the Candombe Advisory Group and different actors within the MEC form a permanent committee that meets on a weekly basis and thus could easily collaborate on the report.