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Nätverkstan visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently to in cooperation with the Swedish-Ethiopian cultural organization Selam start look at capacity-building needs for the artistic scene.
Five days filled with meetings, interviews and a seminar on Cultural Leadership, the two-year International Cultural Project Management education Kulturverkstan, and the Creative Entrepreneurship Course in Nairobi, Kenya, run by The GoDown Arts Centre.
An art piece outside the Bibliothèque Nationale in Rabat (Morocco) called ”Digital” is reflecting on the new society. Old traditions meet the new knowledge and digital society.
”It’s not one modernity”, said South African poet, writer and Professor Pitika Ntuli in an engaging and poethic speech: ”there are several parallel modernities”. ”It’s time for the African Cultural Renaissance”, he continued.
Several examples of a growing cultural scene is shown. In Nigeria the film industry (Nollywood) comes to 10% of GDP in a country with around 174 million inhabitants. In Senegal the music industry is thriving and growing. South Africa is showing important examples as well as visual arts and museums in Morocco.
The global value of Cultural and Creative Industries is said to be around 600 billion USD.
Africa’s share is less then 1%. This is the topic of the three conference days.
Categories: Art Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Democracy Digitization Distribution Economy Education Entrepreneurship International Regional Development Seminar
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Digitization, Distribution, Economy, Education, Employment, Entrepreneur, Globalization, International exchange, New economy, Social entrepreneur
Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine, is empty except for some people rushing across to their different morning activities and a piano painted in Ukraine colours standing lonely on the side.
A wooden board has been put up with photographs of the victims from the Maidan revolution last February (2014) that ended with an overthrown Ukrainan government, and the old president fleeing to Russia. Russian military forces took over Crimea as well as the Eastern parts of Ukraine where fights are still going on. The photographs on the board are getting worn out by rain and wind. They are only of men: one with his cat, another young boy looking seriously in to the camera, yet another a man standing the middle of the demonstration giving a quick glance in the direction of the photographer.
Sunday 26 of October is the election, but here on the Maidan Square we don’t see any evidence of this upcoming event. The on-going crisis in the East with Russia is, though, in the mind of everyone I meet.
On the conference Cultural Policy in Europe today: Finance, management, audience development arranged by EUNIC and the Eastern Partnership, culture is in focus and big hopes and importance are attached to the culture field. Minister of Culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, opens the seminar by emphasizing culture as the key for growth and development in Ukraine and Europe.
Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit, Culture Policy and Intercultural dialogue at the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, stresses the same and says that Culture and Creative Industries encompass around 4% of GDP in Europe. This is an important field in Europe today.
Ukraine is eager to build relations with the EU, an agenda has finally been signed that will guarantee cooperation. Culture and Creative Industries are one of the areas where money will be spent and efforts put in.
But can culture play this role? And can it just be instrumental? Doesn’t artistic value and quality need to be at the core of any such discussions?
One of the speakers, Mr Luciano Gloor, got the chance to answer a question posed by a man in film business that was wondering how to meet what he saw as propaganda done by the Russians, and if perhaps film could be a tool to counteract this?
The answer was straightforward and clear: As soon as you forget your passion and artistic values in producing your art, it will also become propaganda.
The audience will immediately see through any such attempt and judge you as others are judged that only commit to use art as propaganda.
They have made their home their creative space. From the house situated in the small village of Kaykino, with the forest around the corner, a big garden space for sculptures, and the outhouses with great potential for future ideas, project manager (and former fashion designer) Olga and sculptor Viktor Gracheva have created a space from which they run their artistic and cultural projects as well as exchanges and seminars.
Their home turns into an inspiring and warm space for discussions in a second, and on October 23–27 this is taking place. Their mission is to try to with art and culture turn the negative trend in the villages of Begunitsy and Kaykino, situated around 100 km outside of St Petersburg.
The villages have long struggled with a negative population trend; young people leave the countryside to move to the cities. Agriculture is declining, unemployment is high. There is a need to find new development tools to end this negative spiral.
This and lots more was discussed during the Creative Camp Kaykino where Swedish sculptor and owner of Stonezone Lukas Arons attended, as well as local municipal Commissioner and the Cultural Secretary of Munkedal Municipality in Sweden participated. Nätverkstan was also there.
When Theatre Goose on a String started in 1968 it played an important role in the resistance movement against communism in what then was Czechoslovakia. By sneaking in one or two words of the revolution into the performances on stage, the audience and the actors came to play different roles in strengthening the struggle in the real life drama.
Society has changed dramatically since then. Czechoslovakia has become Czech Republic and Slovakia. Communism has ended. The theatre has had to find its role in this new context. And more changes are to wait.
The platform Centre for Experimental Theatre consists of three theatre stages: Theatre Goose on a string, Theatre On the table, and HaDivadlo. They play together around 600 performances (theatre plays, events, festivals, readings) per year for full houses. Of the budget of 2 million euros per year, two thirds (2/3) comes from the city of Brno, the rest is through other income sources such as ticket sales, tours, projects. Sponsoring is zero.
They seem to be one of the few theatre’s of today having full capacity ensembles, with around 150 actors full-time employed. But changes are expected.
In Prague, changes have already happened. The formation of the theatre had to change from a benefit organisation (and thereby owned by the city) to a contracted one. This means that funding is not secured any more and every five years they have to compete with other theatres to get the grants. This has also meant that the actors have lost their jobs to become contractors.
The Centre for Experimental Theatre see the same development in Brno around the corner, and “there is no way to prepare for this”, as our guide Ondrej Navratil tells us. Conversation with the municipality is going on, as so many other cultural organizations they struggle with describing their value and to explain for the event- and tourist focused politicians, that an independent theatre is important.
But the show must go on. In the evening Amadeus, based on the film by the same name by Milos Forman (1984) is on stage. Amadeus’ hysterical laughter fills the auditorium as he enters the stage. He runs it, stops suddenly, looks around over a salon packed with people, and runs laughing out as the play starts. Another full house at the theatre.
The study visit was part of the 22nd Encatc Conference in Brno, Czech Republic, on 17–19 of September 2014.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, International exchange, Social entrepreneur
Two of the participants in the latest Creative Entrepreneurship Program run by the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi come from Slum-Drummers, a community-based organization that wants to share musical talent to engage and encourage young people in the slum areas.
Many of the ten members of Slum-Drummers are themselves former street children and have been trained in music by an Italian artist since 2005.
They perform and work specifically with activities for street children, the drums they use are designed and produced by the group from recycled materials which are also sold for income; plastic containers, cans of air refreshener, cooking pots, broom sticks, plastic pipes and other things become drums, drum sticks, kalimbas.
The organization has been partly supported by the Italian organization Gruppo per le Relazioni Transculturali (GRT) and now they are phasing out the funding. It is part of their strategy, a representative from GRT tells us, to work away from dependency. From January 1 2015 they are supposed to be standing on their own two feet, generate their own income – an enormous challenge for the group.
Slum-Drummers have identified areas where they need more knowledge to be able to sustain themselves: finance literacy, marketing and communication, entrepreneurship, and group identity as the main training needs.
The GRT says it’s necessary to move away from dependency, and either the group make it or not.
The situation is both complex and difficult.
Firstly, the whole question of the situation for street children is multidimensional and difficult. No efforts have, I am told, been done to try to grasp the full situation: the structural level as well as the individual, the community level and the families.
Slum-Drummers and other such projects take the initiative and do make a difference. In a dance-project some years ago, run by dancer and choreographer Isaac Karanj where they encouraged street kids to join dance classes instead of hanging around the dangers of the street, some of the now grown-up former street kids are performing dancers. In the meeting with Slum-Drummers several of the members point out that the music and the group have saved their lives.
The value generated should be unquestionable. It could be counted as public value, social value, and cultural value. It is definitely a value for the individual. Or if you will, economic value: the children that get the chance to get off the street and sustain a living are a less economic burden for society.
Secondly, The Kenya government shows low, if any, interest in putting sustainable programs and incentives in place. Corruption is still a problem. Where the state doesn’t take responsibility, civil society and international organizations will.
Thirdly, project money are short-term, and the international community is tied with political decisions in their home countries who follow a sort of ”trend”-budgeting. A project can’t go on forever and GRT in this case is quite conscious and responsible about this and phasing out slowly, giving tools, support, and capacity-building.
Forthly, international organizations do struggle with the dependency-situation. At some point the dependency need to be challenged and cut. At least this is the argument.
But it can also appear cynical. Resources are not distributed equally in this world. Having resources also mean having power: power of economic resources as well as decision-making. Structures and possibilities are different.
An Italian NGO in Kenya will survive. A local organization where the international funding stops have very few other alternatives.
Categories: Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Economy Education Entrepreneurship International Kenya Music Performance
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic collective workshop, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Development, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, International exchange
Roads are wet as we drive out of Nairobi towards Red Hill Art Gallery in Limuru between Banana Hill and Ngecha Village. Rain is hanging in the air and we see the dark skies of thunder threatening in the distance over the green hills and farmlands.
Some years ago the most prominent art gallery, Ramoma, closed down and at the time it seemed like the exhibition possibilities for contemporary artists were becoming very few. But things are changing. The number of visual artists are growing, and there is a confidence in the art scene which is new. There is also quite a few interesting art spaces around Nairobi.
Red Hill Art Gallery is a fairly new space for exhibiting art and started around two years ago by Hellmuth and Erica Rossler-Musch, two former ”healthworkers” as they described themselves, with a great interest in art. During their twenty-five years in different countries in Africa they have collected art work from the most important artists in that region. A dream has been to start a gallery to show their collection, but also to support up-coming artists, and give a possibility to exhibit.
We get a tour among art works from artists such as Jak Katarikawe, Joel Oswago, Kivuthi Mbuno, Rosemary Karuga, Annabelle Wanjiku, and many more.
After the tour we have a cup of tea in the lush green garden, the rain has started to poor around us making a smattering sound as it hits the parasoll, and the conversation is about contemporary art in Nairobi, the scene, the possibilities, the challenges.
In the car back to town heading towards the next gallery, One Off Gallery, the discussion continues.
Art work in the photo by Richard Kimathi. More galleries are Circle Art Agency, Kuona Trust, Banana Hill Gallery, and of course The GoDown Arts Centre.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Business idea, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Project, Development, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, International exchange, Social entrepreneur
Two of the leading authorities on cultural industries, Justin O’Connor from Monash University (Australia) and Birgit Mandel from Hildesheim University (Germany) are visiting Stockholm and the Arts Grants Committee on Tuesday (April 29) for an open seminar on the future of CCI.
A few years ago, Konstnärsnämnden (The Swedish Arts Grants Committee) published the anthology “Artists and the Arts Industries” with a view to highlighting cultural Industries from the artists’ viewpoint.
Previously, these industries had mainly been described and elaborated by economists and cultural geograph ers, by business developers and public officials. With the help of five foreign and Swedish professors, artists and cultural critics, a deeper perspective was adopted: Did for instance the discussion on creative industries have an impact on the arts field itself – and if so, how? In what respects was the discussion relevant to the artists?
Are we witnessing the end of cultural and creative industries or are we at the beginning of some thing new? If you are in Stockholm, or happen to pass – join the discussion!
Invitation to the seminar is here: Seminarinvitation.pdf.
Categories: Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Digitization Economy Education Entrepreneurship Germany International Seminar
This is some of the content…
”Since the 1980s cities have used art and culture to promote their image, regenerate older districts, attract tourists and creative professionals, and latterly, rolled into the creative industries as a new dynamic economic sector. There is no doubting the contribution all these approaches have made to the transformation of the urban landscape. But they have also provoked a growing crisis as to what exactly is the value of culture? Distinctions have been made between ‘intrinsic’ and ‘instrumental’ value; or different levels of cultural, social, economic and environmental ‘impact’; or even new kinds of ‘public value’ measures which use quasi-markets to valuate cultural assets of programs. A great many policy documents have used these and other models to try to ”fix” the value of culture for public policy.
This talk attempts to sidestep these debates by revisiting, first, the idea of cultural citizenship and second, that of cultural economy. I will suggest that these two ideas should not be separated into the socio-cultural and the economic but need to be combined in a new agenda for urban cultural policy.”
Check the event on Facebook. The seminar is possible thanks to Göteborgs Kulturförvaltning (City of Göteborg, Cultural Department), Frilagret, Konstnärsnämnden (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee), and Nätverkstan.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Economy, Entrepreneur, Globalization, International exchange, Social entrepreneur
Is there a need for a joint Capacity Building program within Art and Entrepreneurship on the regional level in East Africa, driven and run by the cultural field? If so, what could a program look like?
Those have been questions discussed on the second meeting with representatives from cultural organizations as well as artists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The meeting in Kampala on March 6–9, included several large questions.
What kind of competence building is needed among artists and cultural organizations? Is the perspective of livelihood a useful one? What are points of similarities in the context and cultural scene in the different countries, and what are the differences?
Three intense conference-days, with visits of cultural organizations in Kampala, ended in the conclusion that this process, discussion, and concrete ideas need to continue.
Three concrete points already happening is:
1) the GoDown Arts Centre start a term 1 course in Creative Entrepreneurship in May.
2) it might be possible to hold a facilitators’ course and training-for-trainers with regional partners sometime between May and August,
3) another meeting on the East Africa level will be held, probably in August, this time hosted by either Tanzania or Rwanda and with local artists invited.
On the meeting in Uganda artists within performing arts, writing, and visual art was participating, as well as representatives from Bayimba Cultural Foundation (Uganda), Femrite (Uganda), 32°East (Uganda), Autumn Ventures Africa (Uganda), MUDA (Tanzania), Ishyo Arts Centre (Rwanda).
The meeting is part of the project ”East Africa Capacity Building Program for Creative Entrepreneurs and Artists” funded mainly by the Swedish Institute and is a cooperation between GoDown Arts Centre (Kenya) and Nätverkstan (Sweden).
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Development, Economy, Education, Entrepreneurship, International exchange, Literature
DIY (Do It Yourself) is almost like an invitation, a command, to not sit around and wait for things to happen. Instead: Take Action!
Meet up with colleagues, experts, friends, academia, practice, interested folks; create a space, combine your expertise, and solve a problem, found a new idea or make innovations.
DIY Days Gothenburg, taking place this week (18-26th of January), is full of creation, ideas, hot spots, talks, and exchanges. It’s an interesting combination of low thresholds, an open and inviting attitude, and a willingness to share.
The goal is set high: How do we create a sustainable city for the future?
Described under the theme ”Future Cities – Sustainable and Playful Design with focus on Water” people pitch in their ideas such as Tikitut, the community-based tourism or Halo, working on sustainable architecture, or the mix between Hackathons, game industry meet ups, world cafés, crowdfunding, and mentorships and advice.
So take action and pay a visit!
After about one and half hours with bus from St Petersburg on the highway towards Estonia we arrive in the small town of Kaykino. Here Olga Gracheva, former fashion designer and now project manager and business consultant, and Victor Grachev, a sculptor, have decided to live and be part of working for a lively and interesting society in rural areas.
Their home is their project. From the house and garden cultural projects are created, ideas developed, and sculptures formed by artistic hands in material such as stone, wood, metal.
And they involve their neighbours, the children’s culture school, the Agriculture College, and others in Kaykino. It’s about involvement and creating possibilities, because the simple fact is that agriculture is dying and young people move to the big cities.
During a four day visit to St Petersburg, we spend a lot of time discussing what this means. We meet with the Art Academy (Stieglitz), Kuryokhin Center, and the Children’s Culture School in Kaykino as well as the Agriculture College.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund and included invited guests from Not Quite, Tou Scene (Stavanger), StoneZone, and Nätverkstan. The visit ended with a seminar with invited authorities, a report will be written as the end of this exchange project. A former post you find here.
Kulturchock packed the suitcases with Swedish cultural journals and travelled to Helsinki Book Fair that just took place.
On the airport they met the first (that we have seen) print-on-demand machine for buying periodicals and journals, Meganews. It’s time to check what the deal is and how cultural journals can be part of this very modern way of buying journals.
Take the tram fifteen minutes from the center of Göteborg – and you arrive in the periphery. At least that’s how many feel if you live in suburbs or areas around the city center. Hammarkullen is one such area outside Göteborg and where many initiatives have started with the aim of bringing the art, culture, and social work done in the area into the spotlight.
Ten Russian visitors representing culture, art, business, and the authorities in St Petersburg is on a tour in Göteborg and Region Västra Götaland with the aim of discussing the role of art, culture, and social work in the rural areas and to address the question of the center versus periphery.
One stop has been meeting people in the area of Hammarkullen, with visits to different initiatives such as Hammarkullen365, Folkets Hus, and the local radio. Another Nätverkstan located in the city center, and then visits to the artistic workshop for sculpture, textile, ceramics, to artist Lukas Arons and his sculpture precincts, and Gerlesborgsskolan (School of Gerlesborg) along the coast-line. And today the visit is to the artistic collective Not Quite in the very small town of Fengersfors, a two and a half hours drive NorthEastly from Göteborg.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. Next step is to Stavanger in Norway, and the project ends with a seminar in St Petersburg in November.
See here a former post on the topic of center vs periphery.
It takes a bit of driving around to find Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemoráneo, (CAAC) which is a bit strange since it is an old monastery and a quite specific place. It’s situated in the centre of Seville, but still outside. As the gallerist Julio Criado put it during our visit in his gallery later the same day: It’s actually very central but often perceived as being outside of the city.
It’s on the other side of the river Guadalquivir and in the very same area that 1992 hosted the Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92), an Expo of 215 hectares land and with 41 million visitors between April to October. The signs left now are – what seems for us as we drive around looking for the monastery – empty buildings and fenced areas. And behind white steel rods around the monastery and its gardens, we finally find it.
CAAC opened in 1998 in Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas with the aim of being a place devoted for Andalusian contemporary art. Art tradition in Seville, we are told, is that many artists are painters and within the Baroque tradition. The 80s is described as an interesting period in Seville, where the art scene (at least this is one way of understanding this period) hooked on to the era and buzz around film-maker Pedro Almodóvar and his often both provocative and controversial films on topics around sex and violence, religion and people in the margins of society. CAAC is aiming to put such an art discussion back on the agenda.
Walking around the garden, you see this ambition in the interesting, humouristic, and yet serious art interventions placed around the precincts. The Bus stop by Pedro Mora, Alicia by Cristina Lucas, and As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales, are among some of them; the last one being an ironic commentary on the controversy around artists since Romanticism – and a very current such. In the temporary exhibition inside, Chilean performance artist Lotty Rosenfeld, stands out.
Luisa Espino, Coordinator of Exhibitions, tells us about the ambitious program, with temporary and permanent exhibitions, educational programs, music and art in the garden, seminars and conferences, and not least the publications 11 to 21 on the themes of the conferences and exhibitions.
Unfortunately CAAC has seen severe cuts in funding due to the Spanish economic situation that makes it difficult to keep the high ambition. The publications have, as a consequence, been closed down. For now, that is. The hopes are to be able to pick it up again. But the cuts are a bit like stepping back in time. A bit like being back on square one where it all started.
Gallerist and owner of the Gallery Alarconcridao, Julio Criado, talks about the art situation from another perspective.
Interestingly, the gallery is just one street from the famous bull arena in central Seville, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. Cultural heritage right next door to the new upcoming artists. Julio Criado sees an art market in change, where you have to find other ways than the traditional to find the buyers and the market. Also the artistic scene is changing, where a fairly traditional art education is not educating the most interesting artists. Instead he finds the most interesting work done by artists educated within other disciplines.
The first photo: Alicia by Cristina Lucas. The second: As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales. Listen to the fanfare in the last piece here: artist fanfare. The last piece is the Bus Stop by Pedro Mora.
”We” in this blog are a group of five educators, consultants, and actor within art, entrepreneurship, art management from Germany, Austria, UK and Sweden, who formed a small think tank a few years ago to meet once a year and exchange experiences and ideas. This year a smaller group of three of us met in Seville on July 12–16. During the meetings we discuss, have workshops, exchange ideas, meet people within arts and culture, and just enjoy ourselves.
In Nairobi, Kenya, meeting with the people from the GoDown Art Centre and now developing step two of the educational programme ”Reaping the value out of your artistic creativity”.
GoDown Art Centre and Nätverkstan have cooperated since 2009 on workshops and developing ideas of how to build a capacity-building programme for artists and cultural entrepreneurs in East Africa. Professional artists from different art forms, university professors, directors, managers, and others from the cultural scene have been involved in building the content of the programme so that it will fill the needs found by the sector in the context of East Africa.
In the developing process Sian Prime at Goldsmiths University has been involved, also Kenya Polytechnic University in Nairobi, British Council, and Swedish Institute.
The result has been tested in two pilot programmes of 10 weeks that were run in 2012, each with around
30 emerging and professional artists in each group. And now we are gathering again to continue the journey of developing step 2 of the programme.
And I can’t help but think of the article in the new issue of the Art journal Paletten in Sweden about a week before leaving for Kenya. The article is arguing that all talk of entrepreneurship within the art is a sign of instrumentalization and the economization of the art, a result of this are courses on art and entrepreneurship at the university.
It’s necessary to always argue for the role of art and culture in society, and rightly being critical to some processes and initiatives. But to wipe away all efforts on trying to find useful ways to tackle artist’s reality as freelancers and how to deal with their livelihood as neo-liberalism is a little far-fetched. It can only be said by someone who doesn’t have to worry about money.
The reality in Kenya (and Sweden) is that you have to try to find ways to balance your artistic practice with income so bills can be paid and food put on the table. Some do this by trying to live on their art, some do this by finding bread jobs and pursuing the artistic practice and career on their free time. Solutions are many.
It’s not about becoming just like any other business, instead it’s the opposite. It’s about putting efforts into finding ways forward that works within the artistic field and for your artistic practice.
Reading the evaluations from the two pilots, participants seem to agree.
The second pilot course Creative Entrepreneurship – Reaping the value out of your creative work has just finished its ten weeks program. Around 25 musicians, illustrators, visual artists, sculptors, storytellers, poets and more participated to review their ideas, reflect on their lifecycle, look ahead and finish with an eighteen months plan.
During the course they have had lectures of well-known artists in different art forms telling their lifecycle and sharing their experiences, and courses such as marketing, IP Rights, pricing, and others. On examination day well-known musician Makadem told his story, telling the group that challenges don’t stop. Every level has it’s own challenges, and it never stops.
The pilot program is run by GoDown Arts Centre. Nätverkstan has been one of the partners in building content and preparing for the start of the program with funding from Swedish Institute. The cooperation started in 2009.
Ghanian writer Kojo Laing talks softly but with emphasis. Every word comes from the heart and touches the heart of the audience. It’s the most generous and honest presentation I have heard in many years.
It’s like a curse, he says about writing. He can’t stop. He has tried to stop, but he just can’t.
Coming from a Christian family in Ghana, his father was a priest, and with all his five siblings working within the church, he is the only one being a writer and also in pressing doubt in faith, something that is also topics in many of his books. He leans forward in his chair, looks over the audience, hitting his chest with his hand and asks, insisting on the honesty of this question: Am I a fool? Am I crazy having this doubt? Can anyone in the room say that they are anywhere near the doubt I have?
His writing is anything but a simple process, he tells us. One of the books took eight years to write. He wanted to write Ghanian and English, not for the sake of it, but because he wanted to squeeze out the English from the Ghanian languages. With his hands he shows us the guesture of thoroughly and hard squeezing water from wet laundry. And that took time. He picks up the book, shows it, and looks at it, exhausted. And goes quiet.
He answers each question posed by Kwani Trust Chairman Tom Maliti sometimes with a big smile of a question that he founds on the spot, then continues with a story and sometimes ends abruptly. The room gets quiet a short second before a new line of thought is unfolded.
Kojo Laing is like a ghost in his own country, he describes his situation. His books are mainly published outside of Ghana. But on the question if he would rather write something else, if he got the chance to re-do things, something less controversial that sold many, many copies of his books and made him more famous, his answer is distinct and clear. He couldn’t write anything else. This is what he writes.
A young woman raises her hand and asks what he suggests a young writer should think about pursuing a career as a writer?
Be yourself, is his first answer. Read as much as your brain can contain. The more you read, the more complex you become. And it applies to experience as well. Paradoxical experience. Encourage many identities. It will be needed as the world goes smaller.
And he adds and laughs: And when you get advices you reject them.
Kwani? Litfest 2012 is a yearly literature festival run by Kwani Trust in Nairobi. This year the theme is Conversations with the Horn. Writers, artists in exchange.
Christmas carols are on the schedule this afternoon and on stage of the outdoor assembly hall in the township Kogorocho in Nairobi, the young musicians are in deep concentration practicing for a show later on this week. And a small taste of the concert is given in an open session for whomever who would like to listen. Kids fill up the rows, together with a few others and us guests.
”Making music can make a difference” says Elisabeth Njoroge, Head of the Art of Music Foundation, the Foundation behind the project. Getting the chance to play an instrument, learning music, can actually change peoples lives, she says, and tells us examples of children from the slums who get a chance to play and how that has opened new possibilities and hope for a future.
Ghetto Classics, the project was named by the children, started in 2009 and has become an important contribution in the township. The foundation also runs the National Youth Orchestra in Kenya with the same ambition and conviction:
Music can make a difference in the lives of young Kenyans.
Nätverkstan, together with Ole Lützow-Holm, Assistant Professor at Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, are in Kenya to work together with GoDown Arts Centre on the education Creative Entrepreneurship. Read more of Nätverkstan’s cooperation in Kenya here.
Last Friday (November 30) Belgrade’s first one-year mentorprogram, Creative Mentoring, was launched at Gallery 12 HUB. Eleven creatives together with there matched mentors gathered for a Kick-off setting off the program.
The ETC-group, formed together with the Swedish Embassy in fall 2011, gather eleven cultural and social entrepreneurs in Belgrade with high ambition to start, build, and pursue their initiatives in and around Serbia within their different professions. The group decided to start a program for mentoring being inspired by the idea of exchange of knowledge and experience which was the base in the Creative Society–project run by the Swedish Embassy last fall.
In April 2012 the group started the discussion around mentorship in a workshop held by Nätverkstan, which followed by a study trip to Sweden, many meetings, a ”dreamlist” of possible mentors, and finally asking high-profile individuals to be mentors for a year.
And last Friday the formal Kick-off set off this interesting project!
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