African Culture Fund to host cultural practitioners at inaugural academy

The African Culture Fund (ACF), a pan-African organization that supports creativity and professionalism in the cultural sector, cultural diversity and social justice, is preparing to welcome its first cohort of cultural practitioners across Africa at the end of 2021 in its inaugural academy.

The academy, a training camp designed to strengthen the creative arts profession on the continent, will attract 18 participants from eight West African countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

The Bamako, Mali-based organization said it has achieved gender balance with the choice of participants because half of the participants are women.

However, the biggest contingent of the training camp comes from the host country, Mali, which is represented by Assétou Diallo, Sadio Coulibaly, Souleymane Bathieno and Sikadie Samake in the academy which will be held between November 24 and December 6, 2021. .

ACF Acting Administrator Abdoulaye Konaté said boot camp sessions will be conducted in strict compliance with COVID-19 health precautions which include temperature checks, regular hand washing, a mandatory mask and the use of hydro-alcoholic gel.

“The training camp will be giving lessons on site,” Konate said in an interview. “For this purpose, the selected candidates will go to Ségou [in Mali] for more dynamic and participatory sessions, ”he added.

The academy is particularly timely as a more sustainable planet is envisioned by world leaders for better post-Covid economic recovery.

Therefore, African creators and cultural managers should occupy spaces in which their work helps international decision-makers communicate new ideas using local mediums for easier and faster transmissibility to the grassroots.

The financial subsidy for the boot camp came from the Swiss Cooperation in Mali, but the Institut Kôrè des Arts et Métiers, a specialized higher education establishment created in 2013 to promote and develop the professions of art and culture in Africa. , will provide technical assistance.

The academy’s proposed sessions are expected to cover topics such as cultural entrepreneurship, governance of cultural organizations, mediation and dialogue between cultures, digitization and creative innovation, and personal development through a curriculum of mentoring and coaching.

The personal development program is an important aspect of boot camp as cultural practitioners typically work solo and rarely enjoy the camaraderie that comes from working in an office building. Therefore, initiatives that promote intellectual exchange among African creatives can be personally engaging and professionally rewarding for them. self-employed.

Loukou Jean-Marie Konan, another selected candidate from Côte d’Ivoire, discovered the academy online.

Although Mr. Konan is not an artist, he manages 18 clubs under the aegis of CUAC — University Committee for Cultural Action — an organization created by students for the promotion of art and culture in academia. .

Mr. Konan’s organization works in several cultural fields: music, dance, theater, literature and painting.

“I wanted to improve my knowledge and [develop] management skills to do more for CUAC and cultural organizations in my country, ”said Konan, explaining his motivation to apply for the training camp.

Ganiyat Sani, Nigeria’s only representative at the academy, is also an early career cultural manager, having only worked in the sector for three years.

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Ms. Sani’s primary medium in fashion and visual arts. Besides the risks of sexual harassment since most of the decision makers in the cultural industry are men, she says the lack of mentorship is a big problem women face in their creative trajectory.

“Women lack confidence in their creative works,” she noted, “because of stereotypes and preconceptions about what women should do”.

At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Ms. Sani explained that exhibition cancellations affected her work as Nigeria’s federal health authorities imposed restrictions on public gatherings, including industry events.

She is nonetheless optimistic that the technology will give African creators and cultural professionals easier access to global markets, thus presenting new channels for profit generation and networking.

A 2021 UNESCO report revealed a decline of US $ 750 billion in gross value added (GVA) generated in 2020 by cultural and creative industries (CCIs) around the world, compared to the previous year.

In comparison, this figure represents around 1% of nominal global GDP. The estimated three-quarters of a trillion dollar contraction of the global CCI GVA corresponds to more than 10 million job losses in the sector worldwide in 2020.

Independent cultural practitioners are said to have suffered the most losses in the creative industry.

“During the pandemic, some artists got into debt because of the loss of flow from art sales,” says Abolore Sobayo, the founder of the Jelosinmi Art Center in Oshodi, a bustling suburb of Lagos.

Mr. Sobayo is an alumnus of Yaba College of Technology and has worked as an artist for a decade and a half. “It put them in a bad spot. “

Mr. Sobayo says that artists need more funding to undertake their cultural productions. He laments that more of the funds intended for creative professionals are going to Nollywood, Nigeria’s famous film industry, to the detriment of other sectors of the creative and cultural industry.

He added that exchange rate volatility has contributed to higher operating costs as Nigerian artists depend on foreign components in their practice.

The African Culture Fund is planning similar training camps for other African regions: in Tunisia for candidates from North Africa, in Kinshasa for central Africa, in Johannesburg for southern Africa and in Kenya / Seychelles for East Africa.

According to the administrator of the ACF, the Kôrè Institute of Arts and Crafts will issue specialty certificates to participants who complete the academy and provide professional mentoring over the next 18 months after the course ends.

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