Ambitious three-year plan for the African art sector

September 2007 -

The African world of culture is rapidly changing. Fifty key figures from the independent African art world met during the Arterial conference in Gorée in March 2007. A detailed strengths and weaknesses analysis was made. The task force formed at that time recently compiled a three-year plan of action. Playwright and activist Mike van Graan from Cape Town is the project coordinator.


The Gorée Institute, location of The ARTerial conference

"Because our resources are limited, we are primarily focusing on the part we can play as a catalyst and motor behind new projects and initiatives. We believe there are many opportunities for strengthening the sector, especially based on the organisation of the civil society. For the time being, we will focus on countries where some cultural infrastructure, know-how and experience already exist and where initiatives have been successful in the past." The ambitious three-year plan comprises a large number of activities. These include seminars on cultural entrepreneurialism, marketing and journalism. An annual African art month is also to be organised. Plans are also made for a variety of festivals in the areas of visual art, dance, literature, film and fashion.

Van Graan: "The creative industry is addressed with the organisation of an annual seminar on culture and economy. All these activities incorporate the existing structures and activities. We will also pay emphatic attention to the World Summit being organised by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies in South Africa in 2009. Due to our limited resources and influence, partnerships are essential. Naturally we will also call for donor assistance, but we want to share responsibility.

The members of the task force are all Africans who mostly donate their time and the use of their networks for the activities. We believe that this will be mutually beneficial. The informal structure was also a conscious choice: it enables us to be more effective in passing initiatives on to existing organisations. Thus fundraising will have a better chance of succeeding and the resources will also benefit existing efforts. We hope fragmentation can thus be avoided."

'The Arterial, conference on vitalizing African Cultural Assets' took place in March 2007 and was organized by the International Network for Cultural Diversity uit Canada, Danish Centre for Culture and Development, Strømme Foundation fom Norway, Hivos from the Nederlands and the Gorée Institute from Senegal.