November 29, 2017: Members of the Executive Committee of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV), headed by a president from the Kingdom of Bahrain, concluded their seventh official meeting in Linz, the third biggest Austrian city, during the last week of November. Their meeting coincided with an elite scientific conference, honoring the late IOV Founder, Alexander Veigl.

Members of the committee, from Italy, China, Austria and the Netherlands, reviewed reports from IOV regional directors for 2017, along with the various activities produced by them. The team welcomed the establishment of eleven new branches of the organization in five countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They praised the work done this past year and emphasized the need to further motivate governments and cultural institutions to invest more in folk culture and to avoid using it as a promotional tool that diverges from the true nature of folk culture and deceives people.

The IOV vowed to combat this fraud attempts by all means possible and by cooperating with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

During the meeting, several important decisions were made for the upcoming year. First, the committee approved the material for a historical record of the organization, which will showcase its inception and 40-year development.  Second, they showcased the candidates for the position of Secretary General, after the previous one from Belgium passed away this year. They also set an agenda to work on translating material on the official website to the eight official languages and accepted the invitation from the Sharjah Institute of Heritage, to host the General Assembly, in the third quarter of 2018. Along with that, there will be a scientific conference, in Bahrain next November.

The committee also approved the invitation from Spain to join in on the national celebration in Valencia, in the fall of the upcoming year, as well as the program and festival calendar. They will also send experts to conduct training workshops, in six countries that requested them.

It is important to note that several developing countries were then exempted from paying membership fees, to encourage their involvement in the IOV.

The president of the organization, Ali Khalifa, thanked the efforts and support given by Austria, the European Union, donors and logistical facilitators, who are helping the presidency of the Organization, succeed until 2020.

 The meeting also addressed the Government of Sharjah and the efforts put forth by His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, The Ruler of Sharjah, to establish and equip the IOV Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, a vital contribution to reinforcing and highlighting the role of Arab countries in the international cultural arena.

 It is worth mentioning that Austria has sponsored the legal deposit of the organization in 1979. The IOV was then presided by Austrian Alexander Veigl, Tunisian Saleh al-Mahdi and Filipino Carmen Padilla.

Last year, Ali Khalifa won the presidency of the organization for four years.

He is a poet, researcher and Arab cultural activist from Bahrain.