ArtMatters.Info Skill-Development & Mentorship Programme (previously known as ArtMatters Critics Guild) began in March 2005 as an in-house, on-the-job training for youngsters from school interested in writing for the ArtMatters.Info creative and cultural portal covering East Africa. Today, the ArtMatters.Info Skill-Development & Mentorship Programme is a full-fledged training in creative and cultural entrepreneurship (event planning and presentation, conception and production of high quality film, exhibition and promotion of films, critical appreciation of creativity, media literacy).
So far 154 youngsters from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have acquired skills in filmmaking and film journalism and criticism through ArtMatters.Info.
November 29-December 4, 2010 saw the programme–now mainly run through the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, skill-development mentorship programme and market for children and youth in eastern Africa since 2006–go a notch higher with the training of 30 children and youth from Nairobi and its environs in creative documentary filmmaking and critical writing as part of the events marking five years of Lola Kenya Screen.
Many individuals working as journalists–print, radio, television, online–or public relations practitioners have gone through the ArtMatters.Info’s Skill-Development Mentorship Programme and have either taken up jobs with news media or have risen to relatively high positions in their place of work.
In Kenya, ArtMatters.Info’s Skill-Development Programme continues to equip children, youth, and mass media students with creative writing, cultural journalism and critical appraisal skills through Lola Kenya Screen’s annual festival, school outreach programme and on-the job internship opportunities.
Students from Daystar University, University of Nairobi, Kenya Institute of Mass Communications, Uganda Christian University, United States International University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Tangaza College, Kenya Science Teachers College, Kenya Polytechnic, and Multi-Media University College, have gone through this programme.
Through the pan-African, Africalia-supported Cinetoile African Cinema in which Lola Kenya Screen represents Kenya, ArtMatters.Info’s Skill-Development Mentorship Programme has in 2010 traversed the breadth and width of Nairobi and its environs, introducing primary school pupils and secondary school, college and university students to the various aspects of film criticism, film journalism and media literacy.
The interaction with more than 4922 youngsters in various Kenyan primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities has proved that young people in these institutions are not only talented but are yearning for a chance to understand more about the media and put their skills to use. Even at higher institutions of learning such as universities, the desire to apply the acquired knowledge is lacking. Kenyatta University film students, for instance, say that they are looking for areas where they can continually put to use their classroom knowledge yet such opportunities are hard to come by. This not only shows the poor cultural systems in the country, but also point out to many more weaknesses in the media systems in Kenya. The lack of support from established media houses, lack of interest among practicing journalists and lack of facilities not only make it difficult to children and youth to appreciate creativity and culture but also affects the quality of journalism in the region.
The curriculum for ArtMatters.Info’s Skill-Development & Mentorship Programme–that uses the ComMattersKenya (Nairobi, Kenya, 2011)-published How to Write on 1001 Subjects! manual–tackles areas like bolts and nuts of writing, how to write, arts journalism and criticism, introduction to mass media, the role of the mass media, introduction to news writing and journalism, interview skills, arts appreciation and criticism, approaches to appreciating creativity, perspectives of criticism, the vocabulary of creative and cultural analysis (fine arts, literature, music and dance, drama, screen arts), and style, tone and format of good writing.
How to Write
How to Write on 1001 Subjects! is compiled by Ogova Ondego using various eclectic international sources on writing, grammar and criticism.
Referring to writing as a game to be played only by those who understand the rules that governs it, Ondego says How to Write on 1001 Subjects! teaches any one how to think logically and coherently for that is the only way to write clearly and crisply using a simple and concise language. Like a compass, he says, the manual is meant to assist the writer in finding direction and preserving professional consistency.
Entrenching arts criticism in eastern Africa
Among other things, ArtMatters.Info Skill-Development Mentorship Programme aspires to entrench arts criticism in eastern Africa and help uplift the coverage of the arts and culture in the region through training and capacity-building.
To achieve her objectives and in developing guidelines on arts criticism, ArtMatters.Info liaises with local and international organisations.
Further information is available from:
Cell 254 733 703 374, 254 722 486531
Ngong Road, Ngong Hills
P O Box 20775-00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya (EA)