Capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou is a political, administrative and cultural centre and home to over 80% of the population of the central region, with 2,000,000 inhabitants. Bronze-working originated in Niongsin, a neighbourhood initially home to three major families who specialised in the lost wax casting of copper and bronze. Over time, many other groups developed an interest in the craft, which has become the chief source of income for many families. The sector has a considerable impact on the local economy, with service-based craftsmanship employing 13% of workers in the informal sector and composed of 375 businesses and organisations.
Currently, various training centres set up by the State, the municipality and professional guilds transmit artisanship. For example, the Centre national d’artisanat et d’art [National Centre for Arts and Crafts], the Village Artisanal de Ouagadougou [Craft Village], the Vitrine du Bronze [Bronze Display] and the Lukaré Centre offer young people training programmes to ensure continuity in a dynamic dialogue between heritage and creativity. The city hosts two major two-yearly cultural events: the Ouagadougou International Craft Fair (SIAO) and the Ouagadougou Pan-African Cinema and Television Festival (FESPACO).
To support local cultural industries, the Ouagadougou city council places an emphasis on the professional accreditation of young artists through the organisation of technical training, and on improving their working conditions with the building of multi-use cultural complexes including production facilities, an auditorium, and training spaces (Reemdoogo 1, Palais JP Guingané, Maison du Peuple). The municipal government is aware of the importance of bronze-working and has created the Vitrine du Bronze [Bronze Display] to permanently establish and promote the craft and to encourage the sale of its products on markets. As an important driver of the local creative economy, the municipality has pursued a craft revitalisation policy that establishes Niongsin as an iconic neighbourhood in this respect.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Ouagadougou envisages:
- implementing a cultural development programme for the city including the creation in the suburbs of a music development centre, Reemdoogo 2 in Dassasgho, and a social-cultural centre to develop artistic practices in Sig-Noghin;
- refurbishing the first group of bronze workshops and cultural development of the shores of dam No.2 in Niongsin, an historic bronze-workers’ neighbourhood in partnership with national and international companies as part of their social responsibility programmes;
- devising a strategy for the international promotion of local craft, art and design production and developing exchange residencies; and
- transforming Ouagadougou International Bronze and Design Fair (SIAO), which will offer international workshops on ‘Culture, the Environment and Urban Planning’.