Open your minds • GoDown 10 years

When Judy Ogana takes the floor to welcome us all, the warmth and pride shines in her face. In the audience are friends, colleagues and partners from East Africa and abroad gathered to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi together with her, Joy Mboya, and the rest of the staff.

The story of the Godown is impressive, and as Joy Mboya takes us through the vision, steps, ideas, persistence, you realize that this is what running a cultural organization is about: the awareness of the context and society you are part of and your role in it; the dedication for building a strong, vivid, interesting cultural scene; empowerment with capacity-building on the grass-root level; participation, sharing, and networking.

Joy Mboya lifts a few aspects that has been especially important in the GoDown success, which she describes as ”some steps of victory and some steps of challenges”:

1. Getting a space; a multidisciplinary center for the local art and cultural scene in the local community

2. The regional linkages with colleagues in East Africa

3. The strategic plan 2005-2007 as a tool which also set the aim to create a public, innovative, dynamic, and vibrant space

4. Training and development, mobility, exchange, and exposure

5. A strong community orientation

6. Being a mirror of society. The post-election violence in 2007 was a starting-point where the exhibition Kenya Burnings was important. The need for artists to look back and reflect on what’s happening in society.

7. Sustainability and capacity-building focus on artist livelihood

8. Discourse and research

9. The role of cultural spaces in urban living

10. The Creative Entrepreneurship Programme

After the celebrations and the outline of the GoDown Arts Centre’s history and important steps, the East Africa Arts Summit continued discussions with focus on how networking, sharing knowledge, and building a strong art and cultural scene on a regional level could be enhanced.

Artists shown in the photos: Visual artist Mary Ogembo, visual artist Michael Soi, visual artist Patrick Mukabi, the xyz puppetry satire show, musician Makadem, singer Neema.

Nätverkstan and the GoDown Arts Center have been cooperating on capacity-building since 2009, support has been mainly from the Swedish Institute Creative Force programme.

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