Cultural Development Trust: lobby and practical support

March 2009 -

As the ninth millenium objective, Culture is prominently present in the conclusions drawn by the third United Cultures for Development conference held in January 2009 in Johannesburg. Is there any point? "We believe there is: it makes it possible to put culture and development on the agenda without quickly falling into a political discussion," says Maria Kint of the Cultural Development Trust, which organised the conference.

"We were very careful in our search for a politically safe way to perform our lobby activities. It simply works better when you say that culture is an essential part of human existence and just as important as a roof over your head. That is an entirely different discussion with the authorities than asking for money for a culture fund. The members of our network unanimously believe that culture is an excellent way to combat poverty. And that will be our message during the second ICACD conference to be held in Ghana in June 2009, which will be entirely devoted to culture and development."

South Africa's Cultural Development Trust primarily focuses on professionalising music and dance groups. Kint: "We offer many training activities that are related to organisation and management, but we also do the bookkeeping from some of the groups. Three years ago we joined the United Cultures for Development network established by Mundial Productions of the Netherlands. Besides professionalisation, our most important objective is sharing know-how and experience. We place primary focus on actual practice.

Thanks to the network, for example, Women of Dzonga was able to tour the Netherlands. They acquired so much experience as a result that they are now organising a tour of South Africa and have also been asked to perform in Germany. The group is increasingly better able to generate a full income with their performances."