By Sheila Waswa with Ogova Ondego
Published November 12, 2016
A British cultural organisation has held an informal consultative meeting with players in the creative sector of Kenya on its new support programme for the arts in five eastern African countries and Britain.
During the meet, greet and lunch meeting, British Council (BC) informed the gathering of its East Africa Arts programme that focuses on new art for new audience in the 18-35-year old bracket in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and United Kingdom (UK).
The objective of the initiative is to connect new audiences to new art by funding creative projects that would take root in both East Africa and UK, said BC Kenya Country Director Tony Reilly.
“This is our new framework for working between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia on one hand and the UK on the other,” Reilly said. “East Africa Arts will connect new audiences to new art, share skills of creatives and ignite partnerships between the creative sectors of the UK and the East Africa region.”
Reilly said the first open call for expression of interest for BC’s new Arts new Audiences (nAnA) project with a minimum and maximum grant allocation of £2000 and £20000; respectively, had closed in July and that between three and five applications would be selected for nAnA programme for the 2016/2017 period.
The initiative also offers a platform for sharing creative skills by organising fora such as the luncheon one for interaction leading to understanding and collaboration among players in the artistic fraternity in the UK and East Africa.
The event brought together players in fields such as literature, dance, theatre, film, photography, music, fashion and journalism to interact with BC’s Kenya Country Director Tony Reilly, UK Film Advisor Rachel Robey and Visual Arts Advisor Harriet Cooper, East Africa Head of Arts Rocca Gutteridge and Head of Communication Sandra Chege, and Kenya Arts Officer Maureen Anzaye,
The event also introduced Artists’ International Development Fund (AIDF) of the Arts Council of England in collaboration with BC that seeks to support talented individuals to develop skills, expand horizons and introduce an international perspective to their work.
AIDF grantees Delia Jarrett-Macauley, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Caine prize for African writing and theatre producer Bobby Smith, shared more on the grant, how to apply and collaborate in East Africa and the UK.
Jarrett-Macauley, a London-based writer, academic and broadcaster of Sierra Leonean heritage,shared on her art that focused on sharing family ideals through story telling using William Shakespeare’s King Lear play.She had since partnered with Muthoni Garland of Nairobi’s Story Moja literary initiative.
Bobby Smith, on the other hand,talked about his participatory theatre work in prisons; he is collaborating with Imani Theatre Ensemble in Nairobi. The project involved the prisoners sharing issues that affected them through participatory theatre.
The grantees shared on the outputs of their projects, mentioning that their biggest challenge is working across cultures.
Among the concerns that were raised by the artists present was the lack of support from any of the East African Countries’ government to the artists; evident from the fact that there was no representation from the Government in the event.
The two-hour event took place at Heron Portico Hotel from 1:00 PM on October 21, 2016.