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Thursday, June 30, 2011

ARTERIAL NETWORK TO NAF

Arterial Network (AN) will be attending the upcoming National Arts Festival in full force from this weekend, to launch a series of publications serving the African arts and culture community; to induct a new West African secretariat; and to prepare for a Conference on African Creative Economy to be held in Egypt during September.

Representatives from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa will attend the organisation’s Steering Committee meeting in Grahamstown on July 1 and 2.

Over the course of festival week, Arterial Network will also facilitate the exploration of festival collaboration between South-South countries. The organisation is hosting the Grahamstown visit of Mariana Soares Ribeiro, a representative of the Cena Contempor├ónea Festival, one of the biggest performing arts festivals in Brazil. Soares Ribeiro’s week-long visit will include scouting for African creative content for the Brazilian festival taking place during September.

Over the course of festival week, Arterial Network will also meet with its primary partners in the African Playwrights’ Project launched earlier this year for African playwrights living in Africa. The project aims to promote African theatre on the African continent, in Europe and globally; the winner will see his or her work read, performed locally as well as abroad and published in an annual African Play Series.

The project partners, AN, the National Arts Festival, Artscape (Cape Town, South Africa), TeatrNowy (Poland) and the National Theatre Studio (London, UK) will meet to discuss the shortlist from more than 300 entries received.

Five recent Arterial Network publications, to inform and empower the African creative sector, will be launched at the National Arts Festival’s Wordfest. The launch event will take place at the Launch Pad in the Eden Grove Building at 12h00 on July 2.

The five titles are: Adapting the Wheel, Cultural Policies for Africa; Contemporary Arts and Culture Discourses: African perspectives; African Directory on Arts and Culture Information; and Advocacy and Networking Toolkit. All five titles have been distributed to AN chapters across the continent and have been received with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Driven by an AN Cultural Policy Task Team representing 12 countries, Adapting the Wheel provides a generic cultural policy framework which can be adapted to suit any African country. It is published in English and French. Contemporary Arts and Culture Discourses: African Perspectives is a compilation of seminar papers on cultural policy commissioned by AN in 2010. It is the first in a series that the organisation intends to bring out annually.

“The purpose of the series is to encourage rigorous engagement with debates relating to culture and cultural development, often emanating from beyond Africa, that concern the priorities, strategies, practices and allocation of resources as they affect the African creative sector,“ writes compiler Delecia Forbes in her foreword.

The Directory is based largely on the website www.artsinafrica.com, carrying information on African arts, culture and heritage. A chapter titled Country profiles provides basic arts and culture information about the 53 African states, including national arts councils, public funding agencies, national competitions, festivals, key state and civil society institutions and organisations, educational institutions and media. The Directory also lists main festivals, events and biennales as well as continental and international funding agencies. It was published as a direct result of concerns expressed at the founding conference of the Arterial Network in Senegal in 2007, about the lack of available information on the continent.

“This publication, together with the cultural framework and the toolkits, will provide arts and culture practitioners across the continent with substantial and practical strategies to build effective and sustainable networks of artists in African countries,” said Mike van Graan, AN Secretary.

The Advocacy and Networking Toolkit was compiled from the learnings garnered from two Arterial Network Winter schools, in Cape Town in 2009 and Cameroon in 2010. The toolkits received an enthusiastic response when introduced to representatives from 29 African countries at a third AN Winter School in Bamako, Mali, earlier this year.

The publications will be available for sale at the National Arts Festival, at R120 each. They are also available from Arterial Network at the African Arts Institute offices, 25 Commercial Street, Cape Town 8001, phone 021 465 9027 or email: info@arterialnetwork.org