Creative Uganda: cultural professionals in the spotlight

Korea Funds-in-Trust to UNESCO project focuses on “Strengthening the sustainability of the Creative Industries in Uganda”.

On 6 September 2017, the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO brought together members of the National Task Force for the project “Creative Industries Development for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: Strengthening the sustainability of Creative Industries in Uganda” at the National Theatre and Crafts Village in Kampala to review the progress made since the project was launched in July 2016.

The objective of this project is to strengthen the artistic, design, marketing and management skills of Ugandan craft workers in order to improve the production and quality of their products for economic empowerment and sustainable development. It aims to identify, promote and safeguard traditional know‐how in crafts making in the diverse cultural expressions; build the capacity of crafts workers in artistic design, management and marketing skills in order to improve their business acumen and profits through the crafts industry; promote intercultural dialogue and diversity of cultural expressions, respect for aesthetics and traditions; and create awareness about the importance and role of the crafts industry in the economic development of the country.

This third meeting of the National Task Force was chaired by Ms. Mpagi Jane Sanyu, who represented the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. In her opening remarks, she pointed out the priority placed on culture and creative industries in Uganda, which is demonstrated by their inclusion in the National Plan for Development. She also highlighted the new department created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Public and Cultural Diplomacy and the leading role it can play in creative industries development in Uganda. Lastly, she underscored the importance of developing electronic data on Uganda’s cultural statistics and building capacities of key stakeholders to undertake surveys and studies related to culture and the creative industries. Ms. Rosie Agoi, Secretary-General of the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO gave opening remarks, which included an overview of the project and an update on its progress, including mapping and assessing the craft sector in three regions of Uganda and development of a draft training manual. The manual will be tested during three separate training workshops for crafts-workers organized in three regions. There will also be exhibitions of final products organized after each workshop.

Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Culture Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, gave opening remarks on behalf of the Regional Director. She recognized how Uganda is setting the bar high through this project to raise the standards for the creative industries in East Africa. She also asserted that in order to increase government attention to the creative industries, statistics are needed to demonstrate the impact of culture and creativity on economic development. “This project is a step in the right direction through the mapping activity, and the statistics it generated,” she added.

All speakers acknowledged the generous contribution from the Republic of Korea, which made this project possible and is reinforcing Uganda’s implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Following the opening remarks, Dr. Allan Birabi from the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology of Makere University, presented a detailed overview of the Draft Training Manual for enhancing craftspersons’ artistic and artisanal skills and marketing abilities for their products in the cultural and creative industries of Uganda, which he was commissioned to develop in collaboration with his colleagues from Makere University: Dr. Venny Nakazibwe and Dr. Timothy Tebenkana.

The Task Force provided critical comments on the draft Training Manual and agreed on the way forward for its revision and testing through training workshops this fall. Through this project, it is hoped that artisan and craft products “Made in Uganda” will be synonymous with quality, creativity, employment and sustainability.


Photo by Gretjenhelenephotography.com