Consumption/ Enjoyment/ Dissemination: Inter-regional Theater festivals
Aiming to decentralize the consumption and enjoyment of cultural goods and services in Ethiopia, festivals are supported in the 9 regions and in the 2 city administrations. They are mostly annual inter-regional and inter-agency festivals, with a partnership between representatives of the local government (local Culture and Tourism Bureaus or/and local Universities), and a representative of the Federal Government (the National Theatre or the Ethiopian Cultural Centre), with sometimes a public-private partnership. Those numerous programmes often mix activities falling under the 2003 Convention on intangible heritage and the 2005 Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions. The two main objectives are to promote and stimulate development of Ethiopian diversity of cultures and to deepen cultural partnerships among regional states. Furthermore, it aims to disseminate knowledge and enhance professional creative skills all over the country.
Many events are organized early, some are at a fixed venue inviting other regions, others have turning hosts.
The Theater Festival (turning locations) and the 1st Bahir Dar Theatre Festival has been selected for this report because it focuses on activities covered under the 2005 Convention and provided readily available information.
The Theater Festival provides performances for the local population. It also facilitates professional exchanges between the local universities’ theatre students and the National Theatre and disseminates research on local cultural goods and practices (including theoretical training). Workshops on theatre production for students, amateur theatre clubs and non-university trained actors is also conducted. The festival was held in Wollo in 2015. In Wollo, during 10 days, 14 contemporary plays in various styles: classical, historical, traditional and modern were performed by more than 120 artists and support staff. An acting competition was also held. Overall, the festival resulted in a collaboration between 1500 university students and the 71 National Theatre professionals. In 2016 it will be held in Mekele.
The 1st Bahir Dar festival is a public-private partnership aiming to promote performing arts among the local community and to enhance the capacity for theatre clubs at local and district administrative levels. This includes the potential creation of a pool of in-house professionals for Bahir Dar theatre Hall, the Mulualem Cultural Centre (Cultural and Tourism Regional Bureau). This first edition brought two different regions together with three universities and Addis Ababa Theatre Hall, but the goal is to develop this festival a bit more each year, bringing together more regions every time. Trainings focused on the exchange of experiences and interaction between well-established actors, directors with local amateur and professional theatre practitioners. Workshops in acting and production related problem-solving were conducted alongside presentations by Addis Ababa University lecturers.
An Increased accessibility to theatrical experiences all over the country.
The development of theater in various styles in regional states.
Improved skills and networks for local theater artists, to support their career as full time theatre practitioners.
For example, in Wollo this year, the National Theatre contributed 9,125 UDS, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism 13,688 USD and Wollo University 73,000 USD to produce the festival, with corporate sponsors providing the extra funds and in-kind support.
The quality of the performances was good. However, weak coordination of logistics, insufficiency of budget and lack of understanding of cultural management requirement on the consponsor side has slightly lowered the level of achivment. Regardless of the shortcomings encountered during the event, the audiences were numerous and satisfied.
With regard to the festival, it was seen as a success and the report was delivered to the regional cultural bureau.