The 4th International Conference on African Creative Economy
In recent years, the Arterial Network has been working to put culture at the heart of public policy on development in Africa. The 4th international conference on the African creative economy and a research entitled ''Towards an African Arts and Culture Index'' are the result of these endeavours.
After Nairobi, Dakar and Cape Town, Rabat hosted from November 13th to 15th 2014 the 4th International Conference on African Creative Economy organised by Arterial Network, a Pan-African and continental network of artists, cultural activists, NGOs and cultural enterprises.
How has African creation done so far? For which economic impact? On which success and failure stories can we base our strategy on? Those were the issues raised at the 4th African Creative Economy Conference that was a unique opportunity to exchange around the identification of the challenges the African cultural industry is facing and find solutions to encourage its growth.
Morocco was chosen as the host for this conference because it represents a bridge between Africa and Europe, and a meeting place for Northern and Southern Africans. Moreover, the association Racines conducted a 4-year study entitled ''États des lieux de la culture au Maroc" (Inventory of the Cultural Sector in Morocco). This project, which was initiated in September 2012 out of the common will of cultural actors and researchers, came at a time when the Moroccan Ministry of Culture and the public authorities expressed their will to establish a cultural policy with a clear definition of objectives.
The methodological basis of this conference is a document entitled "Towards an African Arts and Culture Index" developed by Arterial Network with the support of Stichting Doen, the Netherlands-based Doen Foundation’s international cultural programme support platform.
This research exposes the analytical part of the inventory of arts and culture in African countries. Its objectives were to analyse the situation of arts and culture in society in order to assess the context of creation in each African country; to assist artists and cultural networks in their lobbying strategies at national, regional and international levels; to promote the definition of cultural policies; to stimulate public discussion about arts and cultural policies; to encourage the creation of a common cultural and artistic market; and to develop the partnership between the public and private sectors in the creative field.
The research also outlines the obstacles and challenges that impede a comparison between African countries, such as insufficient data, statistics, and the absence of a strong mapping of culture. Another difficulty comes from the variable definition of culture, which influences the importance that art has in the implementation of cultural policies at the expense of other cultural aspects. Finally the variety of contexts hinders the development of cultural indicators that are valid for the entire continent, a continent rich in its diversity.
The document also reviews literature on the assessment of culture and development such as the 22 UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS) and the cultural indicators of human development in Africa defined in 2004 by the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA). It also outlines the indicators that measure the level of participation in cultural activities, and the existence of cultural policies that are able to address the demands; and other important indicators such as the Intercultural Cities Index and the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe of the Council of Europe, which could be adapted to the African context; the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders; and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is the most significant quantitative database on governance in every African country.
The 4th international conference of the ACEC was held in the presence of S.E Mohammed Amine Sbihi, Moroccan Minister of Culture and eminent figures of the cultural world including, among others, Alayne Reesberg, CEO of the agency in charge of the project World Design Capital Cape Town 2014; Charles Vallerand, executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity and General Secretary of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity; Angela Martins, director of the Cultural Section of the Department of Social Affaires, Commission of the African Union; Christine M. Merkel, from the Directorate of the Cultural Section Memory of the World, German Commission for UNESCO; Danielle Cliche, secretary of the 2005 UNESCO Convention; Christine Gitau, cofounder of Craft Afrika; Faisal KIWEWA, director of Bayimba International Festival in Uganda; Amadou Fall Ba, cofounder in Dakar of the cultural association Africulturban; Joy Mboya, executive director of GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi, Kenya; Fidelis Ducker, regional general secretary of the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers (Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes or FEPACI). Numerous artists, cultural operators and representatives of public institutions and private business from more than 30 countries took part in the ACEC. The conference was run by Aadel Essaadani, founding president of Arterial Network and a member of the board of the Performing Arts Institute in Montpellier.
Arterial Network’s activities revolve mainly around the analysis of cultural rights and policies as well as culture sustainability. The next step after this important meeting that discussed the results of this research will be the implementation of the Index, the identification of appropriate methodologies and indicators, as well as an interaction with the recommendations of global cultural organisations to assess the environment of arts and culture in different national circumstances. ACEC 2015 will be held on October 9th-10th 2015 in Yaoundé (Cameroon).
For further information please refer to the African Creative Economy Conference website
Content produced in collaboration with Babelmed