This Mentorship Programme that was 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 news portal covering East Africa. The initiative then changed its name to ArtMatters.Info Skills-Development & Mentorship Programme. Today, the ArtMatters.Info Skill-Development & Mentorship Programme is a full-fledged training in creative and cultural entrepreneurship riding on the back of media and information. Its activities are conducted through Lola Kenya Screen throughout the year. They include video production, cultural journalism and criticism, Event and Talent Management, Graphic Design, Web Development, Public Relations and Media Education.
By 2009, some 154 youngsters from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe had acquired skills in filmmaking and film journalism and criticism through ArtMatters.Info.
November 29-December 4, 2010 saw the programme 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 print, radio, television or online journalists or those working as public relations practitioners in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have had some association with the ArtMatters.Info’s Skills-Development Programme.
In Kenya, ArtMatters.Info s Skills-Development Programme continues to equip children, youth, and media & information students with creative writing, cultural journalism and critical appraisal skills through Lola Kenya Screen’s weekly school outreach, fortnightly mobile cinema, monthly film forum, quarterly internship and annual media & arts festival.
Students from Daystar University, University of Nairobi, Kenya Institute of Mass Communications, Uganda Christian University, Kenya Methodist University, Mount Kenya University, Maseno University, Moi University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Tangaza College, Kenya Science Teachers College, Kenya Polytechnic, and Multimedia University of Kenya, among other institutions of higher learning, have gone through the internship offered through Lola Kenya Screen.
Through a pan-African, Africalia-supported Cinetoile African Cinema in which Lola Kenya Screen represented Kenya, ArtMatters.Info’s Mentorship traversed the breadth and width of Nairobi and its environs in 2010, 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 proved that young people in these institutions are not only talented but are yearning for the 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 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 on 1001 Subjects! is compiled by Ogova Ondego using various eclectic local and 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.
Among other things, ArtMatters.Info’s Skills-Development 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 in developing guidelines on arts criticism, ArtMatters.Info liaises with local and international individuals and organisations for support.
Further information is available from:
ArtMatters.Info/Lola Kenya Screen
Cell 254 733 703 374, 254 722 486531
Ngong Road, Ngong Hills
P O Box 20775-00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya (EA).