Capacity Building Programme East Africa

The GoDown Arts Centre is an interesting place with an interesting story behind it. Everytime I come to Nairobi, I realize how true this is.

The art centre is placed in the Industrial Area in Nairobi, an area as the name tells mainly used for industry and car workshop complexes. The initiators found this U-shaped area around a warehouse in the middle, a godown, with a total area of around 6000 square metres. Today you find this space being turned into studios for visual artists, home for music companies, dance companies, meeting place for artists, Nairobits, all in a combination of art, culture and social activities. Many of the artists pursue both their own career, and build training and development for non-privileged children.

The GoDown Arts Centre wanted to become a presenting house, but realized soon that the artists themselves did this. They ran their own organization and presented their work, it was not necessary for the GoDown as a centre to do this. So they became more and more producers, providing training and possibilities. In 2009 they started the work on creative economy and what this could mean for cultural entrepreneurs.

When they first started around 2003 they visited other cultural houses to get ideas. They got advice along the way such as:

”Don’t over-renovate. Keep the space simple and flexible”

”Do not fall into the trap of running a building”

A main question they are working with is how do you give capacity to the art field?  They also found a lack of data and research in this field, there were no reliable data of the cultural field. They have come to work with a wide variety of projects and workshops and have also shaped capacity-building for entrepreneurs.

This led to another question: How could they have a one- or two-year program, an accredited program for cultural entrepreneurs, producers and others in the field? How do you begin to build such a program.

A starting work has been done together with Nätverkstan and Sian Prime from ICCE at the Goldsmiths University. During two days we are now working with a group of trainers, educators, practitioners in Nairobi to come closer to a Capacity-Building Programme for East Africa.


See more posts on The GoDown Arts Centre and Nätverkstan’s work in Kenya here.

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