What is The Arterial Network?
Arterial Network is a dynamic network of individuals, organizations, donors, companies and institutions engaged in the African creative and cultural sector.
The Arterial Network started as a dynamic, continent-wide network of non-government organisations, creative industry companies, festivals and individual artists engaged in the African creative sector at a conference – Revitalising Africa’s Cultural Assets - on Goree Island, March 2007.
At its second biennial meeting in Johannesburg, September 2009 attended by 132 delegates from 28 African countries, a decision was taken to build a more formal network which led to the adoption of a constitutional framework, the election of a ten-person Steering Committee (two per African region), the appointment or election of 28 country representatives and the adoption of strategic priorities for the next 3-5 years.
How many National chapters have been launched in Africa?
Since the adoption of the Constitutional Framework, national chapters are at the core of Arterial Network’s structure as they are the primary means to change the working conditions and to deliver real and substantial benefits to artists on the ground. Arterial Network is now structured as continental (African) network of national networks. 40 national chapters have been officially launched to date:
NORTHERN AFRICA: Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Tunisia and Morocco
WEST AFRICA: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Gambia
EASTERN AFRICA: Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mauritius
CENTRAL AFRICA: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe
It is in this context that 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, to human rights and democracy, and to the eradication of poverty on the African continent.
The African Context
Africa is much more than the usual images of war, famine, poverty and disease. It is also a continent of natural beauty, rich in resources, warm and generous people and vibrant cultural life. It is not one homogenous whole; rather conditions vary considerably between regions and countries as well as within countries.
Development and Culture
International support to the African continent is shaped by the discourse of development (for which there are numerous definitions or emphases).
Some agencies and multilateral institutions frame their support to the continent in terms of “the cultural dimension of development.”
Our vision is rooted in our context and we pursue our vision in the framework of the cultural dimension of development which we understand as follows:
1. First, we define development as “the ongoing generation and application of resources (financial, human, infrastructural, etc) to create and sustain the optimal conditions (social, political, economic, etc) in which human beings enjoy the full range of rights and freedoms espoused in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
2. Our view of “the cultural dimension of development” is as follows:
2.1. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone shall have the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community (and) to enjoy the arts….”. We believe that development, in creating the optimal conditions for the full expression of human rights and freedoms, must by necessity create the conditions for this right to be enjoyed simultaneously along with other rights and freedoms.
2.2 Development, human rights and democracy present challenges and ruptures to the worldviews, beliefs, values and traditional practices of many communities. In this way, the culture of a community – in its broad anthropological sense –can inhibit or facilitate development (as defined above). A Millennium Development Goal such as promoting gender equality may challenge a traditional cultural practice. Another goal such as reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS may be thwarted by polygamous cultural practices or the influence of religion on the use of condoms. Culture and development are thus integrally linked as development strategies, human rights and democracy are themselves premised on particular values, worldviews and beliefs.
2.3 The cultural dimension of development is not only relevant to the supposed beneficiaries of development, but also to those in the global north or in well-resourced economies who drive the development agenda often in terms of their strategic economic and/or security interests. The values, beliefs, ideological assumptions and worldviews of these development drivers also need to be interrogated with regard to their influence on, and shaping of, development practices and strategies in the global south.
2.4 The arts are important means in development as carriers, interpreters and celebrants of the values, beliefs and worldviews and practices that construct individual and community identity i.e. they are integral to the cultural life of a community.
There are three broad categories of artistic practice each relevant to development as defined above:
2.4.1 the arts as having value in their own right: for personal catharsis, enjoyment, stimulation, affirmation of identity, etc i.e. the arts for personal development
2.4.2 the arts instrumentalised for a socially-good end e.g. to promote intercultural dialogue, to educate communities about good health practices, to raise awareness of climate change i.e. art for social development and
2.4.3 the arts as economic drivers e.g. creative industries to create employment, generate income, reduce poverty, etc i.e. art for economic development
We believe that these are all equally valid categories of artistic practice within a developmental framework and that they necessarily co-exist (often – and in our view, unnecessarily - in tension with each other as emphasis is placed on one or the other depending on the prevailing social, political or economic conditions).