Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania celebrated the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on 21 May 2020 with the organization of national onlineResiliArt debates.
ResiliArt, a global movement launched by UNESCO consisting of a series of virtual debates with key industry professionals and artists, aims to raise awareness of the far-reaching impact of the current confinement measures on the culture sector, and support UNESCO Member States in the development of policies and financial mechanisms that can help creative individuals and communities overcome the current crisis.
Uganda kicked off the celebrations with an online performance and debate entitled “World Culture Day 2020: ResiliArt|Uganda- Art, Culture and Crises: Opportunities and Challenges in Uganda” organized by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Discussants to this debate identified key challenges in the development of the sector, including lack of structures, professionalism, the need for art in schools and protection of Intellectual Property rights. They unanimously called for a stand-alone Ministry for Culture to guarantee the interests of the Creative Economy are well articulated and focused on, thereby ensuring growth and development of the sector during and after the crisis. Bayimba Founder Mr. Faisal Kiwewa accepted the task of developing an action plan and spearheading this initiative. This was the sixth ResiliArt debate organized by Uganda.
This was followed by “ResiliArt|Kenya: Crafting and Reshaping the Creative Economy for Resilience and Sustainability in the Context of COVID-19”, which was organized by the Kenya Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Alliance Française, The Creative Economy Working Group, The GoDown Arts Centre and Twaweza Communications together with the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. During this discussion moderated by Ms. Joy Mboya, Director of the GoDown Arts Centre, the stimulus package for creatives offered by the Government of Kenya elicited lively discussions on the role of government in supporting the sector, both during and after the COVID19 pandemic. The Director for Culture, Dr. Kiprop Lagat articulated the strategy for the rollout of the ‘work-for-pay’ Ksh. 100 Million stimulus package for artists, actors and musicians. He said he hoped that this initiative would attract opportunities for deeper partnerships with private sector and civil society. Mr. George Gachara from the Heva Fund shared insights from a survey conducted on the effects of COVID19 on the creative economy in Kenya, to help understand the situation, in order to tailor appropriate solutions to the crisis. Discussants from the film, visual arts and music subsectors also had an opportunity to share experiences of their practices as a result of the crisis, and possible recommendations. A follow-up debate is planned for June 2020.
The Tanzania Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports joined forces with the Culture and Development East Africa (CDEA) and Midundo Radio to hold the ResiliArt|Tanzania debate. The theme of the debate was “Challenges and the new normal for the post COVID19 era.” Emphasizing the importance of supporting the culture and creative industries, the moderator of the discussion,
Ms. Ayeta Wangusa quoted former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who stated
A country which lacks its own culture is no more than a collection of people without the spirit which makes them a nation.
Fielding several questions on strategies the Tanzania Government is taking to support the creative sector, the Director of Culture and Development Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr. Emmanuel Temu assured the audience that the Ministry was working closely with associations, groups of artists and stakeholders to develop a strategy to cushion the creatives from the economic ramifications of the pandemic. He appreciated the ResiliArt discussion for shedding light on the plight of the creative practitioners in Tanzania.
The pandemic has impacted the entire creative value chain – creation, production, distribution and access – and considerably weakened the professional, social and economic status of artists and cultural professionals. This is indeed a cultural emergency. Through the ResiliArt debates, we can raise awareness of the impact of the current confinement measures on the culture sector, work closely with government, civil society organisations, cultural practitioners and stakeholders to explore ways the sector can navigate this period – economically, socially, emotionally, – mitigate the current crisis and forecast for a better future.