Written by Sana Kim and Manfredi De Bernard
On the 14th of November CMCI department hosted Understanding and Supporting Creative Economies In Africa, a one day international conference, which served as a closing event of the AHRC funded research network Understanding And Supporting Creative Economies In Africa: Education, Networks And Policy led by Dr Roberta Comunian (King’s College London) and Brian Hracs (University of Southampton). The purpose of the event was twofold. First, it intended to give collaborators and partners of the research network an opportunity to disseminate their research findings. Second, it aimed to bring together UK and African academics but also creative economy practitioners to discuss the current state of knowledge in relation to the development of creative economy in Africa from both perspectives - academic research and practitioners’ experience.
The conference comprised of four sessions with each session narrowing the discussion to a specific topic in relation to the creative economy in Africa. The first session focused specifically on the matters of education relevant to the creative economy in Africa. Via case studies from Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda speakers we able to identify various gaps in the creative education provision and shortages of certain skills among local creative practitioners. One of the speakers – Joan Mosomi (University of Nairobi) – found that in case of fashion design higher education institutions in Nairobi tend to concentrate on theoretical aspects of the discipline, often overlooking its practical aspects, which has led to the shortage of entrepreneurially and technically savvy creatives in the field.
During the second session speakers explored the role of arts and creativity beyond the economy. Prof. Burton (Newcastle University) and Dr Nabulime (Makerere University) opened the session by sharing amazing stories of young artists in East Africa, whom they personally met and interviewed. The speakers highlighted some of the common challenges these artists face ranging from the absence of government support to the overall weakness of the local creative ecology. After an enlightening review of the cultural policy evolution in Nigeria delivered by Prof. Duro Oni (University of Lagos), Creative Economy Programme Manager – Genevieve Pace – shared how on-going projects by the Creative Economy division of the British Council are actively trying to fill these gaps through various workshops, training and direct funding opportunities.
The next session looked at creative intermediaries. Wakiuru Njuguna shared a brilliant mission of the HEVA Fund, which supports a lot of artists and creative industries in Africa, taking up a vital responsibility – often absent – of a financing stakeholder of the creative ecosystem. Lauren England (King’s College London) then proceeded with an investigation of creative intermediaries and their roles in the African contexts. Dr Lilac Adhiambo Osanjo (University of Nairobi) then shifted the focus of the session to the issues around the growth of fashion design industry in Kenya.
The final session payed attention to creative markets, networks and mobilities with contributions from the conference co-organisers. Dr Brian Hracs opened the session with the discussion on various forms of mobility (temporary, mediated and virtual) available to the creative entrepreneurs today. Then, using a case study of craft intermediaries in Cape Town, Dr Roberta Comunian reflected on the vital role that creative intermediaries and creative ecologies play in African creative economies that often lack in public support.
While the network activites have officially closed with the conference there are many academic outputs in the pipeline, including two edited books and a policy report. If you would like to keep updated about future outputs, please the project blog in 2020
Join us at the international conference “Understanding and Supporting Creative Economies in Africa: Education, Networks and Policy”
14th November 2019 Anatomy Museum, King’s College of London
This international one-day conference, closing event of the AHRC funded research network “Understanding and Supporting Creative Economies in Africa: Education, Networks and Policy”, will bring together UK and African researchers to discuss the current state of knowledge and understanding in relation to the development of creative economies in Africa.
Participation is free but please remember to register https://creative-economy-africa.org.uk/final-conference-london.html
We will be hosting three exciting sessions Friday August 30, 2019. All sessions will take place in the Sherfield/SALC Building, Read Lecture Theatre. Times and detailed outlines below:
Creative Economies in Africa: new research and policy perspectives: The role of co-working and business development in the creative economy in Africa
Creative Economies in Africa: new research and policy perspectives: Geographies of creativity in Africa: urban, rural and beyond
Creative Economies in Africa: new research and policy perspectives: Creative work, mobilities and education in the development of Africa's creative industries
We are currently looking into mapping craft spaces in South Africa (with a focus on Cape Town). This includes markets, craft centres and galleries, potteries, community workshops and network organisations.
If you know of any other places that should be included on this map please send us the name and location (as precise as possible) using the contact form on the website.
On the 11th of April we hosted an incredibly talented and enthusiastic group of creative intermediaries from Lagos and beyond.
The event was hosted by a new art education / co-working space in Ikoyi called Angels & Muse, providing an inspirational atmosphere for our workshop with art showcased in our surroundings.
The event began with a brief presentation from the UK team which introduced the role of creative intermediaries and started off the discussion in relation to developing sustainable creative economies. The presentation is available to download below.
The second session of discussion, led by Lauren England, focused on the needs and experiences of creatives. We considered their needs in Lagos/Nigeria and the challenges they face in moving from start-ups to establish businesses. Many participants highlighted the difficulties for creatives in establishing and maintaining a healthy supply chain and working with other creatives and non-creatives to develop their business. It was discussed how this often resulted in individuals having to cover too many multiple roles (from artists, to promoters, to printers and sellers), which gave them less room to be creative.
After a coffee break the discussion led by Dr Roberta Comunian focused on creative intermediaries, trying to define them and consider how they work together in the Nigerian context and understand what knowledge and skills they require to face current challenges. Participants highlighted the importance for intermediaries to have experience as creatives themselves, but also the importance of developing specific knowledge of the sector they work in. Finally, they discussed how value and integrity were key to the work of creative intermediaries.
After a lovely and generous Nigeria lunch we were back for more discussion around mobility and international networks; many highlighted the importance of international exchanges and training abroad. However, an issue around selection criteria for international competitions was raised; as Nigerians tend to undertake training and establish themselves later in life than their international counterparts, they are often at a disadvantage in entering competitions targeted at 25 to 35 years old producers or creatives.
thanks to Oguntade Olubola for the photos here above
The final session of the day was led by Yemisi Mokuolu from Hatch Africa reflecting on the current (and potential) role of technology in bringing together intermediaries. Here participants highlighted the importance of storytelling on social media to connect with local and global audiences. They expressed a wish for a digital hub connecting creatives across Nigeria but also acknowledged the challenges in developing and maintaining such a platform.
As organisers we felt everyone had been extremely generous and friendly at the event and by the end of the day we felt like a little family. Many of the participants also joined the team at an evening event organised by one of the participants Kamil Olufowobi at Terra Kulture, a Lagos cultural centre. The event included a debate on ‘Hollywood Meets Nollywood’ with special guest Abi Matesun and notable Nollywood personalities as panellists, with Stephanie Busari, CNN Africa, as the moderator. At the end of the event Kamil kindly provided Dr Roberta Comunian with an opportunity to introduce the research project to the audience.
Event report written by Dr Roberta Comunian and Lauren England
Discussing Creative Economy at Unilag: the role of higher education in the creative economy of Nigeria
On the 9th of April we co-hosted an interesting workshop at the University of Lagos – Department of Creative Arts. In the morning we were welcomed by a team at the Department of Creative Arts, led by Prof Duro Oni and Prof. Peju Layiwola and also by Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. The Department of Creative Arts provided a very engaging landscape to the event with plenty of art works and music bursting out of the venue.
The event took place also thanks to the support of King’s Worldwide Partnership Fund and the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King's College London
In the morning after a brief presentation about the project and higher education and the creative economy collaborations by Dr Roberta Comunian (King’s College London) we engaged in discussion on the local context of Lagos and Nigeria.
Maria Williams provided input from the British Council Nigeria’s activities in relation to higher education and their report on the sector. Participants highlighted the difficulties in sometimes being heard by policy and policy makers but also acknowledged the importance of forming groups and larger networks to make themselves visible.
After a lovely traditional Nigeria lunch, we focused our discussion on education and creative careers in Nigeria/Lagos facilitated by Lauren England (King's College London) and discussed how universities connect with the creative sector via student placements and common curriculum development opportunities. The final research discussion around universities, research and the creative economy led to the importance of universities making their work more available to the outside and establishing long-term collaborations with the sector.
This led to the introduction of Dr. Patrick Okonji from the Research & Innovation office, who explained to our participants the opportunities available to establish a Research Centre within the University of Lagos around the creative economy.
The day concluded with a visit to the Department of Arts art gallery as well as the Entrepreneurship & Skill Development Centre located close to the Department of Arts. We were showed around by the director of the Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre Ass Professor Sunday Abayomi Adebisi.
Finally, our research team and hosts from the Department of Arts where able to meet with Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe to seek his support towards promoting an ARUA (African Research University Association) Centre of Excellence around the arts and creative economy.
Report written by Dr Roberta Comunian and Lauren England; Photos by Dr Roberta Comunian, Lauren England and Prof Duro Oni.
Our research team will be visiting South Africa (Cape Town) in June 2019 and holding a research forum at the District 6 Museum in Cape Town on the 4th of June 2019 in partnership with SACO: South African Cultural Observatory
Lauren England (PhD Candidate, King's College London) is continuing to look and map craft spaces across Africa. This includes markets, craft centres and galleries, potteries, community workshops and network organisations.
In the map below she is starting to collect data about Nigeria, where we will conduct our first fieldwork in April 2019. If you know of any other places that should be included on this map please send us the name and location (as precise as possible) using the contact form below.
In Nairobi, the most critically acclaimed filmmakers – both directors and producers are women, a remarkable fact considering the dramatic underrepresentation of female filmmakers in film industries globally. For instance, the British Film Industry’s 2018 Statistical Yearbook notes that women directed only 16% of UK films released in 2017, and Marth M. Lauzen’s most recent “Celluloid Ceiling” report documents that women were directors of only 11% of the top 250 grossing films of 2017 in America. Studying the exceptionalism of Nairobi’s female filmmakers is all the more important given this global context of the marginalisation of women in key filmmaking positions.
When I first heard about these filmmakers I was so excited I decided to set off on a PhD to study them. I had seen the films of Wanuri Kahiu, Judy Kibinge, Ng’endo Mukii, and Hawa Essuman at film festivals and was keen to focus on these auteurs and their fantastic films. Like many a film scholar before me I imagined watching their films in careful detail and interviewing their directors. Like many scholars before me, all my plans went out the window when I started my field research. Eight months in Nairobi and 30 interviews later I had an entirely different understanding of these filmmakers and the industry in which they work.
I found that far from a movement of auteur directors with success on the international film festival circuit, Nairobi’s female filmmakers are a movement of entrepreneurial hustlers. Yes, they direct films that play on the most prestigious silver screens, like Wanuri Kahiu’s latest film Rafiki that premiered at Cannes. But they do so much more than this and as it turns out, all this other activity is central to their success.
Take Judy Kibinge for example. She has directed several films, including Something Necessary, which screened at the A-list Toronto International Film Festival, but her career has included so much more. She runs the film fund Docubox, has produced her own films, made corporate films, and made incisive political documentaries like Scarred: the Anatomy of a Massacre, among many other projects in a career spanning 20 years. Knowing this, it becomes increasingly untenable to segregate her directorial projects from the rest of her work. Considering all these aspects of her career is essential to understanding how any of her films are made and circulated. Thinking of Kibinge as an ‘entrepreneur’ rather than ‘director’ opens up a new window to understanding her experience.
Convention dictates that a filmmaker must start out producing minor works like short films and commissioned work as they build their way up to the top job of feature film director. Once that apex is achieved the rest of the work stops mattering. But if we focus only on the apex – like I was when I started my research – we see only a handful of women and frame the participation of other women as relatively unimportant.
The careers of Nairobi’s female filmmakers - from the most established to rising stars – are marked by an ability to flexibly shift between industry segments as opportunities arise. They may move between producing high quality television for cross continental broadcasters, producing lauded ‘festival’ films, to working in extremely low budget modes, or pursuing commissioned projects for the likes of the city’s many development agencies.
It would be impossible for them to sustain a career in only one niche and unlikely that they would be able to realise their most creative and daring projects. But because they can move flexibly through this market they can create innovative art works and sustainable careers.
Women direct far fewer films than their male counterparts globally, but focusing only on directorial work can obscure the true presence – and significance – of women in film industries. The case of Nairobi’s female filmmakers shows us it is necessary to consider filmmakers much more holistically and include the full scope of their work. Once we do this, we will have a better appreciation of women’s work in filmmaking.
Robin Steedman is a Creative Economy Engagement Fellow at the University of Sheffield. Her work on Nairobi’s female filmmakers appears in the edited collection A Companion to African Cinema (Wiley Blackwell 2019) and the journal Poetics (doi: 10.1016/j.poetic.2018.11.002). Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your career and the connection it has with the Creative Economy in Africa?
A: I have worked as a practitioner in the print media and as media advisor for an international development organisation in the Republic of Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania, respectively. I am co-founder and Executive Director of Culture and Development East Africa (CDEA), a creative think tank in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. CDEA was incorporated in October 2011 to provide cultural and Pan-African thought leadership for creative, social and scientist innovators to create and innovate through structured workplace learning, incubation, research & advocacy and capacity building for social change. It also innovates on how space can be used to enhance sustainable workplace productivity and green community lifestyles.
I was a member of the UNESCO Expert Facility (2015-2017) and am currently a member of the EU/UNESCO Expert Facility (2018-2022) for the 2005 Convention. I am also a steering committee member of African Cultural Policy Network (ACPN).
From 2014-2017, I managed a research project titled: ‘Research In Culture And Creative Industries Focusing On The Film And Music Sub-Sectors Contribution To Creative Economy In Tanzania And EAC Common Market’, whose findings fed into the two annual Mashariki Creative Economy Impact Investment Conferences in 2017 and 2018 respectively, which I also curated. I have designed CDEA’s Creative Economy Incubator and Accelerator Initiative which was launched in November 2016, targeting East African fashion and accessories designers, filmmakers and musicians from Uganda and Tanzania.
Q: You have recently started a new PhD project in connection with the creative economy in Africa could you tell us about the project and what you want to achieve?
A: I am currently a PhD student in Media and Communication Research in the University of Leicester, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, hosted by CAMEo. My PhD is taking practice as a research approach to establish if creative entrepreneurs in selected creative hubs in the East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Kampala integrate Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) objectives in their production and manufacturing processes and urban regeneration activities. The research will establish if there is co-relation between national cultural and urban policies and the industrialisation development agendas of the Republic of Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Uganda. The study will frame policy recommendations that offer opportunities for creative entrepreneurs in the design sector to be able to contribute towards a circular economy and the urban regeneration of the three East African cities.
Q: What do you think are the main challenges faced by creatives operating from Africa countries (you can talk here specifically about the countries you are familiar with)?
A: The research carried out by CDEA highlights the key challenges facing the creatives in Tanzania and other East Africa countries, and can be summarised under the following framework conditions:
• Financial Framework Conditions: Most of creatives run micro businesses that are not bankable because they are considered high risk. In addition, there are no guarantee financial systems targeting creative industries.
• Industrial Framework Conditions: Creative content producers in Tanzania and wider the East Africa region are at the precursor and embryonic stages of industrial development, with limited incentives and capacity support to stimulate industrial growth.
• Market Framework Conditions: There is a market for creative products such as film and music in Tanzania, but they controlled by telecoms and broadcasters and aggregators, with limited trickledown effect to the creatives.
• Cultural Framework Conditions: There are clusters for creative and cultural industries that are mostly privately organised. However, in Tanzania, the National Arts Council-BASATA has played a pivotal role in clustering the artists under four arts federations namely; art and craft, film, music and performing arts.
Knowledge Framework Conditions: There is limited knowledge development (research) for the creative economy in the East African countries. Most of the creatives are self-taught and hardly rely on formal knowledge for their development.
• Regulatory and Policy Framework Conditions: There is a weak copyright management framework, with the broadcasters in East Africa as the biggest copyright infringers since they do not pay royalties to the digital content creators. Instead, they ask the content creators to look for advertisers who can cover the cost of broadcasting time.
• Support Framework Conditions: No policy measures to support creative startups to stimulate innovation, unless they are linked to social sectors such as health, water and education. Mobility funds are limited which hinders opportunities for creatives to network.
Celebrating CDEA's Fashion Bootcamp combining leather and Kanga, local fabric associated with East Africa.
Photos courtesy of Ayeta Wangusa
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