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July 27 2016

Arterial Network Interview July 2016 | Maria Kint, Cultural Development Trust

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As part of Arterial Network’s role to bring together and showcase the work of cultural practitioners in our network, we have launched a new interview portion of our monthly newsletter. To begin, we spoke to Maria Kint of the Cultural Development Trust (CDT) about her work in the cultural sector of South Africa. We also discussed our proximity and synergies between the activities of Arterial Network and those of Cultural Development Trust.

Arterial Network has been working with the Cultural Development Trust (CDT) in preparation for the pilot stage of the SHIRIKA training programme, the first workshop taking place in August 2016 in Cape Town. The vision of the SHIRIKA programme is an African creative sector that is healthy, thriving economically and socially thanks to the sustainability, performance and good governance of its organisations. 

With seed funding from Africalia, it is a training programme designed to equip arts organisations with the necessary tools to become more viable and sustainable through best practice, such as in financial management and governance. After the first workshop in Cape Town, workshops will also be held in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Maria Kint has been an active player in the South African arts and cultural sector for more than a decade. Hailing from the Netherlands originally, she has made South Africa her home and worked tirelessly to assist young South Africans to become economically independent citizens. In 2014 she became a Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau (awarded by the King of the Netherlands) and in April 2015, she was awarded the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver as recognition for her contribution to the liberation movement of the early nineties.

Arterial Network: You are from the Netherlands originally. What brought you to South Africa and what made you to stay?

Maria Kint: I found myself in South Africa in 1990, after being invited to play a role in Operation Vula in Johannesburg by the African National Congress (ANC) leadership that I had met in Amsterdam at the time. I believed in the cause and wanted to be part of the movement towards a free and democratic South Africa for all. I worked with the underground communication operation until the first democratic election in 1994, and after that it was such an amazing time of transformation that I made South Africa my permanent home. I was then drawn back into the arts and cultural sector, originally working in dance with Moving into Dance Mopathong (MIDM). Ultimately, the experience and success in this early endeavour led to the creation of the Cultural Development Trust (CDT) that focuses on admin and management training in the arts and culture sector, outreach programmes and the empowerment of economically disadvantaged South Africans. Over the years, I have used my position as a Dutch national to forge strong and lasting relationships between the Netherlands and South Africa in the promotion of the Arts that have proved to be mutually beneficial.

The Cultural Development Trust is an organisation that provides much needed support to the overall development of artists and arts organisations across South Africa and internationally. Could you tell us more about the day-to-day work that CDT does?

CDT works to promote economic empowerment in the Arts sector through the provision of training, mentoring, assistance, support, development and consultancy services in the fields of: Management, Entrepreneurship, Administration, Fundraising and Marketing, publicity and profile building. We also link artists and the various art disciplines regionally and internationally through information exchange, tours, lectures and general exposure. We firmly believe in the value of cultural exchange and try to facilitate international exchanges where possible. On average, we are able to send about 20 people a year on high profile cultural exchanges to Europe.

How did the relationship between Cultural Development Trust and Arterial Network come about?

CDT has been a supporter and member of Arterial Network (AN) since its inception in 2007. There is a lot of synergy between our organisations and as we focus on training for development, we are well poised to support a number of the AN programmes. For example, during past AN programmes in 2010/2011, CDT collaborated with AN to supply specific training in the realms of Arts Management and Entrepreneurship.

What would you say is the added value of Arterial Network within African arts and cultural sectors?

As in all networks, the possibility of bringing together people (in this case from across the continent) and exchanging information between these people/organisations is probably the most basic, yet crucial function of AN.

Similarly, the training that has taken place over the last few years and the support role AN has played to find funding has been commendable, especially for programmes that deal with advocacy and that work across multiple language and cultural groups. I would also say that AN has certainly improved the outlook of many African governments to consider that the arts and cultural sector is an important economic player in any country.

I would like to see AN’s role grow to become a more unified voice (a more singular representative) to other continents of the world as it could play an important role by centralising and communicating the continent’s concerns and strategies to the international community. Unfortunately for now, the continental differences between the various regions and the small percentage of individual artists on the continent that are AN members currently make this role quite difficult.

What are the main benefits to arts and cultural organisations taking part in the SHIRIKA training programme, for which you are partnering with Arterial Network?

There are many benefits to organisations taking part in the training, although it must be said that the SHIRIKA training programme is most beneficial as a means of support to those who want to work on improving the sustainability of their organisations themselves – the drive and will to improve has to be there already in order for us to assist meaningfully. We can provide the proverbial water well, but we cannot make participants drink from it.

This programme is geared towards making available the knowledge and the tools about how organisations can become more sustainable and more accountable, and therefore have a better chance of surviving the current economic crises with a better outlook for the future. To allow even more room for implementation of the material, we have arranged both a training portion of the programme, as well as a 6-month follow up and (email) mentorship so that the benefits can be felt more fully throughout the organisations through prolonged support.

The training component itself is also important as a networking opportunity. There will be a variety of different organisations that participate and the new networks of peer-knowledge will continue to grow following on from the initial training days.

To sign up for the Arterial Network monthly newsletter, click here.

Interviewer: Marie-Louise Rouget, Arterial Network

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