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What is Arterial Network?

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Arterial Network is a dynamic Pan-African, civil-society network of artists, cultural activists, entrepreneurs, enterprises, NGOs, institutions, and donors active in Africa’s creative and cultural sectors. Established as a member-based, non-profit organisation, Arterial Network operates all across the continent in both English and French, and is led by an elected Steering Committee which represents the five regions of the continent. Arterial Network's five core focus areas to support the arts are advocacy (through the Artwatch Africa project), capacity building, market access, knowledge management and information dissemination. Its Continental Secretariat is now based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, as of the 1st of February 2017. Arterial Network celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2017 in Abidjan.


The vision of Arterial Network is of a vibrant, dynamic and sustainable African creative civil society sector engaged in qualitative practice in the arts in their own right, as well as in a manner that contributes to development, human rights and democracy and to the eradication of poverty on the African continent.


Arterial Network's main objective is to facilitate partnerships within civil society, beyond national borders and between African and international partners to develop a sustainable creative sector. The input of Arterial Network is often sought after by major international platforms on topics related to arts, culture and development. The network plays a key role in propelling the African creative agenda on the world stage.

Arterial Network was born from strong convictions, expressed by several cultural actors and African civil society, that putting culture at the heart of public policies is the sine qua non condition for a fair and perennial development of the African continent.


1. to build effective, sustainable in-country, regional and continental networks within and across arts disciplines to play advocacy and lobbying roles within countries, regions, on the continent and internationally as appropriate. 

2. to collect and distribute relevant information, data and documents to empower civil society arts and culture organisations in African countries and regions to plan and take informed action in their interests.

3. to provoke debate, discussions and theorising around arts, culture, creative industries and contemporary arts and culture discourses and to develop African positions and leadership on such issues.

4. to help to build national, regional, continental and international circuits (festivals, outlets, etc.) to distribute African cultural goods and services and enable African artists to tour their works and to generate income through their creative output.

5. to facilitate the training and development of human resources required to practice, distribute and market the arts and creative goods and services of the African continent.

6. to mobilise local, regional, continental and international resources in support of the development, promotion and distribution of African creative goods and services

7. to improve the working and living conditions, and to defend the rights of artists and creative practitioners on the African continent.


Full membership is open to any African artist or cultural NGO or enterprise based in Africa that subscribes to Arterial Network’s aims and agrees to abide by its principles. Membership applications may be completed here. There is no membership fee. Associate membership is available to partners and to Africans living abroad. 

Arterial Network members can be found across the continent working across all arts disciplines and fields.

Meet some of them here!

Join the network!​

Advancing Africa's Creative Sector

Since its establishment in March 2007, Arterial Network has grown to become one of the largest intercultural networks on the continent. Arterial Network is represented across the continent through national chapters, local partner organisations and members, making it a leading African driven, cultural organisation.

Arterial Network's membership structure and mass base enables its members to engage with all aspects of the creative sector across disciplines, borders and regions to build more connectivity across the continent, catalyse collaborative opportunities and address key challenges at continental levels with a long-term commitment to sustained change. 

Arterial Network has been consistently engaged in:

 Arterial Network holds consultative status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and is frequently called upon by various bodies in the public, private and non-profit sectors for advice and consultation on matters related to the arts, culture and development. Arterial Network plays a key role in driving the African arts and culture agenda on regional, continental and global platforms.

Please visit our NETWORK page to learn more about our chapters and representation across the continent and our PROJECTS page to see our latest activities. 

Click here to see our promotional video.

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Some of our achievements to date include:


  • Publication of Adapting the Wheel, a best practice handbook on the development of cultural policy frameworks published in French and English and translated into Arabic and used in Africa and the Middle East by civil-society to formulate or update policies with their national government
  • Three Arterial Network founding members appointed by UNESCO as technical experts to assist Global South governments in devising policies consistent with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
  • Development of position paper on Culture and Development, disseminated to key international stakeholders supporting the case for arts and culture to be included in the development of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals
  • Presentation of Arterial Network’s African Arts and Cultural Index analytic framework at the 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, Germany (2014)


  • Launch of Artwatch Africa, established to monitor, advocate and defend freedom of creative expression in Africa
  • Publication of Artwatch Africa report on the State of Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa following a continental-wide mapping exercise
  • Training workshops and public seminars on human rights, cultural rights and artist rights delivered in 17 countries during 2014. Participants drawn from the arts and cultural, human rights, media and government sectors
  • Inaugural Artwatch Africa Life Achievement award for individuals making a significant contribution to the arts sector in their country or region. Awarded to the late Paul Brickhill in Zimbabwe during the 2014 Shoko Festival
  • Founding member of Artfex, a global umbrella organisation supporting freedom of creative expression


  • Publication of a suite of best practice toolkits on topics including fundraising, arts advocacy and networking, arts marketing and project management made available online and in hard copy form
  • Range of training workshops delivered in each region on topics including artist rights, cultural policy, fundraising, arts journalism, advocacy and networking and arts marketing


  • Launching of the Culture Post2015 Campaign with other international partners work, calling on the international community to support the campaign: The Future we want includes culture
  • Consultative status at UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.


  • Hosting of five annual conferences on the African Creative Economy (ACEC) in Nairobi (2011), Dakar (2012), Cape Town (2014), Rabat (2014) and Yaoundé (2015); gathering several hundred delegates including artists, entrepreneurs, academics, policy-makers, donors and other stakeholders making it one of the largest gatherings of the African creative sector on the continent.


  • Catalysed the formation of the African Festival Network, Afrifestnet (comprising over 160 festivals in Africa), to contribute to information exchange, skills transfer and the growth and distribution of creative products across the continent.