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Culture Counts: UNESCO poster competition


Competition Brief

Create the poster for 2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures; a competition to promote better communication and understanding between all peoples and cultures.


The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, and has defined three main dimensions: dialogue, mutual understanding, and cooperation.

UNESCO, as a specialized agency of the United Nations entrusted with the mandate to build “the defences of peace in the minds of men," has been designated as lead agency of the Year within the UN system.

Let us recall that the quest for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples is deeply entrenched in UNESCO’s Constitution (1946) as one of the best guarantees of peace in the world and constitutes an overarching objective of the Year 2010.

Furthermore, one of the major aims of the Year will be to demonstrate the beneficial effects of cultural diversity recognizing the importance of transfers and exchanges between cultures through implicit or explicit dialogue that underlines how all cultures and civilizations are interlinked and contribute to the progress of humankind.

The strategy of the International Year consists in mainstreaming the above-mentioned principles in all policy-making at local, national, regional and international levels through the involvement of the greatest number of relevant stakeholders. The activities carried out under the International Year focus on:

  • Promoting reciprocal knowledge of cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity
  • Building a framework for commonly shared values
  • Strengthening quality education and the building of intercultural competencies
  • Fostering dialogue for sustainable development.

Participants of the competition are invited to express their vision and understanding of the “Rapprochement of Cultures” by designing posters that creatively emphasize the importance of exchange and dialogue among and between cultures in ensuring social cohesion and harmonious coexistence.

To learn more about the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, visit the website at:


Design a poster that celebrates “2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures".

Entries are limited to text and images only.

Designers have complete creative liberty, and may freely use in their design the title of the Year ("2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures") in any of the following six languages that they are most comfortable using: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic.

Entrants are free to play with the title in more than one language, but should not use a language they do not write fluently (for example, Chinese, Arabic, Russian).

Please verify the proper spelling of the full title of the Year as shown here.

Incorporating the title of the Year in your poster design is optional, not mandatory.

Entrants must keep in mind the international nature of UNESCO and the celebration of the Year and avoid any reference to a particular country, region, culture or religion.

The final printed poster will be A1-sized (59.4 x 84.1 cm or 23.4 × 33.1 in). Although the online entry provisions do not allow for the full A1 dimensions, your entry must include at least one image showing the entire poster design scaled to A1 proportions. Note the “Entry Provisions” section outlined further down the page.

You must not include any logos on your design but instead use a placeholder. The final printed posters will include the UNESCO/UN logos + the official Logo of "2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures". To accommodate these in the poster design, entrants must save a place in their design where the official logos would be positioned in the event that your design is selected as one of the 50 to be showcased. The placeholder should be scaled to 9cm x 9cm relative to an A1 poster, and be positioned in the upper left hand corner of your poster. Click here to download the placeholder example. Since screen resolutions are different across computers, if the placeholder we have supplied does not measure 9cm x 9cm on your screen, you may recreate it to the 9x9cm dimensions.

Any person submitting a design within the framework of the competition certifies and warrants that his/her proposal does not violate the rights of a third party or any copyright.

All entrants must consult and agree to the competition Rules (see the Rules tab).


Entries should be submitted in the format of a web-resolution jpeg of 72dpi. See the “How to Enter” section in the competition Rules for more details on image and file sizes.

Additionally, entrants should have their design readily available in a 300dpi print resolution PDF in case their poster is selected as one of the 30 to be printed. If your design is chosen to be printed, and you have verified in writing your acceptance of the usage terms, you would need to add the official logos (mentioned above in the "Design Brief") which would be supplied to you by UNESCO. (See "Proposed Usage of Winning and Selected Designs," below, for more details).

Each design submission should be accompanied by a description (French or English only, 400 words maximum) describing the design and what it intends to illustrate.

Entries that direct users away from the DESIGN 21 website will be disqualified.


50 posters will be selected for display in an online gallery linked to UNESCO’s website dedicated to the celebration of the International Year 2010.

From 50 selected posters, 30 posters will be printed for an exhibition to be held at UNESCO HQ in May 2010 in the framework of the UNESCO International Festival of Cultural Diversity. The designs of these posters will not be altered, nor used for commercial purposes.

The designers of the 30 chosen posters (or in the case of a submission with co-authors, the person submitting the entry) will be contacted directly by UNESCO. In order to be “chosen,” the designers must agree, in writing, to allow UNESCO to use their posters for promotional purposes and future activities related to the objectives of the Year 2010 and to grant UNESCO all reproduction rights. The designers of the 30 posters will benefit from the high visibility of their design; the artists’ names and nationalities will be included on the poster.


As the official judging begins, all members of DESIGN 21 will have the opportunity to vote for their own favorites during a public voting period. During this phase, entries will appear randomly to ensure that all entries have equal chance of being viewed. You can vote for as many entries as you like, but you can only vote once for each entry. The entry with the most votes will be recognized as the Most Popular and will move on to the final round of judging. There is no obligation on the jury to award the Most Popular a prize unless they deem that entry worthy of the prize. All results will remain confidential until the conclusion of the judging period.


Tuesday March 9, 2010 at 6pm UTC
UTC stands for Universal Coordinated Time – which is dependent upon time zone so be sure to check what time that means to you. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED so do not leave your entry upload until the last minute in case you experience problems. Dates may be subject to change, check the website for updates.

Judging Criteria

In addition to the general judging criteria of Overall Effectiveness, Creativity, Practicality and Aesthetics, which apply across our competitions and are stated in the competition Rules, the judges for this competition will be looking for the ability to graphically and visually communicate the message of Rapprochement of Cultures in a compelling and easy-to-understand way.

The following principles will also be key:

  • How clearly does the design articulate principles of universality and plurality?
  • How well does the design promote a positive and diverse notion of “rapprochement?”

Your design should not include or make any reference to any particular region, culture, religion, conflict, politics or commercial entity, nor should it pose or connote negative sentiments or imagery.

Entries with logos or with negative or undesirable content such as those described above will be disqualified.

Entries that direct users away from the DESIGN 21 website will also be disqualified.

The judges' decisions are final.


30 posters will be selected for printing and showcasing at UNESCO Headquarters during the International Festival of Cultural Diversity in May 2010. See “Proposed Usage of Winning and Selected Entries" outlined above for details.

From the 30, UNESCO will select an Overall Winner who will receive a $2000 cash prize plus an invitation from UNESCO to attend the poster exhibition at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in May 2010. The winner’s trip (airfare, accommodation and per diem) will be paid for by UNESCO. The trip may not be substituted for cash payment.

In addition, two DESIGN 21 Advisory Board members will select their individual Judge’s Pick with a prize of $500 each.


Two experts from the Advisory Board of DESIGN 21, Rick Bennett and Emiliano Godoy, will choose their individual Judge's Pick. Their selection will be conveyed to the final judging panel at UNESCO.

Based in Australia, Rick Bennett is Senior Lecturer at the School of Design Studies at UNSW's College of Fine Arts, as well as head of COFA Online, and Founder/Co-Convenor of the Omnium Creative Network.

Based in Mexico, Emiliano Godoy runs the design firm Godoylab, is design director of the furniture manufacturer Pirwi, and industrial design lecturer at Centro de Diseño, Cine y Televisión.

Judging for UNESCO will be Katérina Stenou, Director of the Division of Culture Policy and Intercultural Dialogue. Aided by the project team of 2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, Ms Stenou will be selecting the 50 posters to be showcased, the 30 to be printed and exhibited at the Festival, and the Overall Winner.

About Competitions

The DESIGN 21 series challenges designers of all disciplines to find solutions to social and global issues. It’s guided by UNESCO’s premise that education, science, technology, culture and communication are tools to spread knowledge and information, build awareness and foster dialogue.

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