Argentina is a Federal Republic composed of 24 provinces and, as a consequence, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is implemented by each of them within its own territory. The report nevertheless focuses on federal rather than provincial activities.
The Dirección Nacional de Patrimonio y Museos (DNPM, National Directorate for Heritage and Museums), under the National Ministry of Culture, is the federal body charged with the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, through its Intangible Cultural Heritage Office. The DNPM implements on-going actions aimed at government institutions and public servants in the provinces, in order to promote the development of specific measures at the local level. These measures aim to help spread the importance of intangible cultural heritage in society. The DNPM encourages provincial-level local management agencies for intangible cultural heritage to report their activities through a survey of institutions related to intangible cultural heritage. Four provinces have their own intangible cultural heritage departments. Legislation bearing on intangible cultural heritage at the national level includes: Federal Law No. 26,118 (2006), which adopts the 2003 Convention; Federal Law No. 26,558 (2009), which recognizes the Chamamé as an Argentine Cultural Heritage; and Federal Law No. 26,855 (2013), which establishes November 8 as the National Day of Afro-Argentine and Afro Culture. At the provincial level, laws include Arts and Craft Provincial Law No. 9,486 of Entre Rios (2003), which regulates the promotion and development of crafts; several other provinces have recognized specific elements or bearers.
Currently, the National Board is the only institution that provides specific training on intangible cultural heritage, with training activities mainly directed at public servants in the 24 provinces and intangible cultural heritage bearers. The Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano (INAPL, National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought) is the research and documentation centre of the DNPM. The Instituto Nacional de Musicología ‘Carlos Vega’ (Carlos Vega National Musicology Institute) is another important research institute that holds documentation. Another important repository is the Sistema de Información Cultural de la Argentina (SInCA, Cultural Information System of Argentina), which is available online. As part of its regional initiatives, the National Board encourages the study of intangible cultural heritage as a measure for its effective safeguarding. As a result, the following documents have been prepared: State of the Art of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Argentina; Report on the Situation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Afro-descendants in Argentina; and National Diagnostic Report on the Inventory of the Guaraní Cultural Universe.
Until now, inventorying work has been undertaken in Argentina outside the framework of a national inventory programme, for which planning and training have nevertheless begun. The inventories and surveys undertaken thus far include a ‘Fiestas and Festivals’ survey, which is visible in the Cultural Map of Argentina, developed by SInCA under the initiative of the National Ministry of Culture. It is structured around a single domain (holidays and festive events). An inventory in the City of Buenos Aires focussed on ‘El Filete Porteño’, a traditional painting technique, as part of the preparations for its nomination to the Representative List. INAPL has also undertaken an inventory of the Guarani cultural universe, as part of a regional project under the auspices of the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Latin America (CRESPIAL), a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO based in Peru.
Some promotional initiatives undertaken by the National Directorate include a programme focussed on people of African descent, the Our Traditional Foods programme, the National Plan for the Promotion of Tango and the Programme for Strengthening Expressions of Argentine Carnival. The Mercado de Artesanías Tradicionales de la República Argentina (MATRA, Argentine Traditional Crafts Market) declares leading exponents of craft production as Living Human Treasures. Various training sessions are also available for interested communities or bearers as part of the promotion of elements inscribed on the Representative List, namely relating to ‘fileteadores’ and ‘milongueros’ in Buenos Aires.
With regard to education, some cultural institutions in Chaco, Santa Cruz, Salta and Santiago del Estero are active in the transmission of knowledge related to intangible cultural heritage, such as music, dance and traditional handicrafts. The Celebration of the National Day of Afro-Argentine and Afro Culture and the promotion of Afro culture should by law be included in the curricula of educational institutions. MATRA also has a project dedicated to fostering the transmission of traditional production techniques. Higher education programmes in Cultural Management, Heritage Management, Folklore, Anthropology (Social and Cultural or Social), and Cultural Tourism also provide teaching that is relevant to aspects of intangible cultural heritage. These programmes are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels by national public universities and private institutions. Non-formal means of transmission of various traditional practices are considered an indispensable source of training and are highly valued socially, and there has been a significant proliferation of workshops and/or demonstrations.
As far as bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation is concerned, Argentina considers its participation as a member of CRESPIAL to be very important, and participates in regular Governing Board meetings, in the Executive Committee and in special meetings to design strategies, implementation plans and monitor results. It also supports CRESPIAL by actively participating in two regional projects: the ‘Guaraní’ Cultural Universe; and the Afro-descendant Cultural Universe. The National Directorate has also cooperated in the development of the Living Heritage Project, organized by the UNESCO Montevideo Office.
The inscription of Tango on the Representative List in 2009, together with Uruguay, has stimulated an increase in the number of milongas, tango clubs, non governmental festivals, dance classes and orchestras and there is now an increased interest among young people in the element. It has also raised awareness about the existence of intangible aspects of heritage which was previously confined almost exclusively to monuments and other material elements. In 2013, two important institutions were created: (1) The Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios sobre el Tango (Tango Research and Study Centre), an open and participatory space where, together with the various social agents, different projects, activities and problems are discussed; and (2) the Polo Bandoneón, designed to preserve, teach and disseminate bandoneon playing. A pilot community based inventory on milongas was begun in 2013 under the Living Heritage Project (UNESCO Montevideo Office). Working alongside experts and officials, community members interviewed milonga organizers, communicated with tango dancers, tango learners, tourists and DJs and visited several milongas to make written, photographic and taped reports. The present report on Tango was prepared on the basis of several meetings held with the Asociación de Organizadores de Milongas (Association of Milonga Organizers) and the Asociacion de Maestros Bailarines y Coreografos de Tango Argentino (Association of Tango Argentino Masters, Dancers and Choreographers), within the framework of the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios sobre el Tango (Tango Research and Study Centre).