The Charter of Cultural Rights of San Luis Potosí
1. San Luis Potosí and culture
San Luis Potosi is the capital of the eponymous state, home to nearly one million people, and is part of one of the most important metropolitan areas of Mexico. Its Historic Centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has a wide network of creative and cultural assets that include spaces, institutions, infrastructure, facilities, groups, businesses, grassroots organizations, civil associations, networks, and advocacy movements for art, recreation, science and culture. However, an evaluation framework set up by this program identified key issues around safety and prevention, gender equality, mobility, and urban public services.
The municipal government of San Luis Potosí has developed a new framework for the city's cultural rights and cultural development.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The Municipal Government of San Luis Potosí has built a new framework for the city’s cultural rights and cultural development with its “City of San Luis Potosi Charter on Cultural Rights”, adopted in 2021. The charter was highly inspired by the Agenda 21 for culture, and saw the adoption of a binding, non-regressive, and progressive character by the City Council in the form of “Municipal Regulations for Culture and Cultural Rights”, a legal mechanism that was directly inspired by the “Charter of Rome 2020”.
The main objective of the Charter and of the Municipal Regulations for Culture and Cultural Rights for Well-being is to guarantee cultural rights for all inhabitants, visitors, and people passing through San Luis Potosí. In concrete terms, this involves the implementation of policies, models, and mechanisms recognized under this newly constituted local legal framework for an inclusive, free, and sustainable cultural development throughout the city.
2.2. Project development
Starting in 2018 the city of San Luis Potosí began an unprecedented process of innovation and institutional development through participatory construction. This process took place over three years and included: contributions from more than 50 experts, the standardized participation of about 1000 people, a measurable impact of more than 9000 internet users, technical contributions from 22 academics located throughout the country, involvement from all government departments of the executive municipal branch, and the unanimous approval of all political groups represented in the city.
While developing these tools, perspectives of vulnerable groups were included, particularly those that were of concern by the office of the Ombudsperson including: women, children, youth, the elderly, migrants, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples, giving the tool a broader and deeper view of its future in the short, medium, and long terms.
The “City of San Luis Potosi Charter on Cultural Rights” declaration and the entry into force of the legal document “Municipal Regulations for Culture and Cultural Rights” laid the foundations for what is now the “Municipal Culture System”, as well formed a basis for local cultural policy around four key pillars: Human Rights; Cultural Democracy; Regional Equality, and Living Culture; and Promotion and Development of Creative Skills.
The charter can be seen as a tool that contributes to promotion, advocacy, and discussion, both globally and locally, of cultural rights. Simultaneously, the regulations themselves serve to establish a mandatory, overarching binding framework that regulates the actions of municipal authorities in favour of free and sustainable cultural development.
Since the renewal of 2021, the new municipal administration has launched a strategy for the implementation of the charter based in the following stages:
- Instrumentation of the system, which seeks to revitalize, establish, and intertwine the Municipal Cabinet and the Citizen’s Council on Culture, bodies for cultural governance provided for in the Municipal Regulations, and which are necessary to help guarantee the right of people to participate in community cultural life.
- Implementation of the system, which seeks to enact the cultural policy and events for the municipality based on the master plan documents for the sustainable development of the city.
The city of San Luis Potosí began an unprecedented process of innovation and institutional development through participatory construction that took over three years.
3.1. Direct impacts
The most significant change can be seen in the institutional architecture of the local government, as it establishes, among other things, a Municipal Culture System that ultimately creates a first level office responsible for the city’s cultural policy. It also develops procedures for the generation of sustainable cultural development plans, councils for citizen participation in culture, and resource pools for the promotion of people’s cultural rights.
In the instrumentation/implementation stage, the “Cultural Policy Self-Evaluation Guide for the Living IberCultura Program” will be used. It is a participatory and cross-cutting evaluation model for cultural development. The guide is a reinterpretation of “Culture 21: Actions” whose purpose is to facilitate the review of the progress, stagnation, reorientation, or delay of local cultural policy. It involves the integration of a diverse group of participants from different areas of government, academia, and social organizations, who must assign a score from 1 to 9 for each of the Commitments or “items in order to evaluate their development in the local context. Three administrative control and follow-up formats will also be developed, ordered by Law, and based on the Logical Framework methodology.
3.3. Key factors
The tools were developed through a process of high social participation. Their development was technically and methodologically rigorous. The charter is universally accessible: it is available in Mexican sign language, has audiodescriptions, a braille version, and has been translated into English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Having been adopted as a binding instrument through the collective decision of the municipality, the framework is now enforceable, actionable, and non-regressive. Its omission or dismissal may incur municipal action and it is now monitored by national and international institutions.
The city and its people have managed to enact instruments that transcend the short three year duration of governmental administrations. It is this very fact that is the primary guarantee for continued work. In fact, these instruments are now even being accepted in their implementation stage by a political party that opposes the one that was in charge of their “design stage”.
The most significant change can be seen in the institutional architecture of the local government.
4. Further information
San Luis Potosí was a candidate for the fifth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (February - June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September of 2022, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.
This report was written by Daniel García Álvarez de La Llera, Director of Culture for the Municipal Government of San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
Contact: daniel.gdelallera (at) sanluis.gob.mx