The Economy of Creativity • Nairobi

I was stunned with what the government official was saying. I had to hear it referred by another person before I believed it.

The workshop days on the topic ”The Economy of Creativity” started with a TV-show with well-known actor and journalist John Sibi-Okumu as the presenter. Invited to the panel were celebrities from Kenyan business and creative life. Hip-hop artist Nameless shared panel with business man Manu Chandaria,TV-personality Dan Ndambuki known for his very popular show ”Churchill Live”, a representative from the Rugby team, Anders Öhrn from Swedish Institute and the governmental official. It was a talk of the economy of creativity, obstacles and possibilities for creative industries in Kenya, the relation between culture and business life. The governmental official said that a cultural policy is coming and a national endowment for the Arts will be in place, something very welcomed by the Artists in the audience although many afterwards told me that they heard this so many times. And as she talked she was addressing problems in the field, and she explained the problems with something like: ”People have an attitude problem” and ”this needs to be changed”. People have an attitude problem? A clip will be on youtube soon, so let’s check if she really said this.

After the show, mainly cultural entrepreneurs and some representatives from business life gathered on a one and a half day workshop to discuss how cultural entrepreneurs and investors could empower each other. The thought was that business life needs the creative industries, as well as the other way around. After long and intense discussions and the full commitment of participants acting as investors investing money in cultural projects, it was quite obvious that venture capital and cultural projects and businesses have difficulties finding each other. Investors will not find the opportunities they are looking for in these projects and Artists’ might not be interested in this sort of capital. They just don’t make enough profit to be interesting for the investor and the major drive for the Artists is not profit, but meaning. For a few it might be a way, and for them it would perhaps be interesting to build bridges, but for the majority this is not a solution. It is important, all-the-same, to learn from each other and there are benefits for both business and cultural field to interact more, was a thought from the conference.

On the evaluation after the workshop, a few conclusions were drawn to strengthen the creative industries and the awareness of the same. Maybe not so new, but even more strongly:

1. Strengthen cultural entrepreneurs and professional Artists with management tools and other similar skills. Education, workshops and training is needed.

2. Strengthen the creative field as a sector through better organization and structure.

3. Promote the creative industries and show the potential for other fields. Raise awareness with businesses and investors.

The workshop was funded by Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation, support from the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi,  in the project ”Empowering Creators and Investors” run by Pratik Vithlani in cooperation with GoDown Arts Centre and Nätverkstan. Read more under category ”Kenya” on the side on this site.

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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