“We are the new Arterial Network. We are the new Africa. We are the renaissance.” – Mamou Daffe
This statement captures the spirit and essence of Arterial Network’s vision as the organisation steps into its second decade. In honour of the 10th Arterial Day (7 March), the Steering Committee, affiliates, members, partners and Secretariat staff gathered at La Rotonde des Arts in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) to present the network to media and guests, reflect on the various advancements that have been made, but also acknowledge its failures in order to bolster the network’s efforts going forward. The occasion gathered participants representing 20 countries, namely Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Swaziland, Togo, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Morocco, Chad, Uganda, Seychelles, Congo, Guinea, Mauritania, South Africa, Cameroon, DRC, Algeria, and the Netherlands, and four major cultural institutions on the continent were also represented, namely Music in Africa, MASA Côte d’Ivoire, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers - FEPACI and the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa - OCPA. Also present, were former Chairpersons, Secretary Generals and Steering Committee members, including Aadel Essaadani, Korkor Amarteifio, Mike van Graan, Peter Rorvik and Ammar Kessab. National Arterial Day celebrations took place all over the continent, while the continental Anniversary activities took place in Abidjan over the 10th and 11th of March 2017.
‘This is not the time to rest on our laurels’
The frank presentation re-inspired confidence in the network’s forward trajectory by acknowledging that this is not the time to pat each other on the backs and perpetuate any notion that the job of reinforcing the arts and cultural sector is nearing completion. This point in particular was hammered home by former leaders of the network who were invited to speak, namely Aadel Essaadani (former Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, 2011 – 2015), Mike van Graan (former Secretary General, 2009 – 2013) and Peter Rorvik (former Secretary General, 2013 – 2016). Drawing on their experiences, they addressed the evolution of the problems faced by the network and the need for Arterial Network to rise to the challenge by adapting to changing circumstances. Korkor Amarteifio (former Deputy Chairperson and Chairperson, 2011 – 2013) encouraged the network’s direction to include the promotion of women to leadership positions based on the merit of their talents and experience. These women exist, yet they are often excluded from positions of leadership due to fraternalism and patriarchy that continues to leave certain structures closed to them, and it must be acknowledged that this issue is widespread across Africa in particular.
A number of special guests were invited to speak, and they shared their support and words of advice with the audience, comprising of Arterial Network members, artists, civil society and esteemed Ivorian figures of authority. These speakers included, Gertrude Flentge (Stichting DOEN), Malick Kébé (Fonds d’aide à la culture – Guinée), Cheick Oumar Sissoko (FEPACI) and Lupwishi Mbuyamba (OCPA).
Presiding over the morning’s presentations were Mamou Daffe (Chairperson), George Camille (Vice Chairperson), Valerie Oka (representing the Ivorian Ministry of Integration), Yacouba Konaté (MASA Côte d’Ivoire) and Elie Liazaré (Advisor to the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie).
George Camille opened the special photo exhibition that showcased 10 years of Arterial Network. The photos were mounted on the ground floor of La Rotonde des Arts, and included images from throughout the network's journey, concluding with the signing of the agreement with MASA Côte d'Ivoire in January 2017.
As was announced in February 2017, the Arterial Network Secretariat has officially relocated to Abidjan from Cape Town (South Africa) following the signing of the agreement with MASA Côte d’Ivoire to host the team in their offices in Plateau for the next 5 years. The endorsement of Arterial Network’s work by arts institutions and Ivorian ministries has bolstered the network’s confidence and has helped the team to ease into this transitional phase. The atmosphere so far has been one of mutual respect and support in the pursuit of shared interests.
Following the morning presentation on the 10th of March, the afternoon session was dedicated to a General Assembly of Arterial Network affiliate delegates. During the course of the afternoon, the Executive Committee reported on the progress that has been made across the Arterial Network programmes, namely Advocacy, Capacity Building, Market Access, Knowledge Management and Research, and Information Dissemination, using reports compiled by the Secretariat team. Following this, the affiliates were invited to report on the activities of their structures since the General Council in Harare in October 2016.
Three major resolutions were discussed and ratified unanimously during the meeting:
- The ‘chapters’ of Arterial Network will now exclusively be referred to as ‘affiliates’
- An annual membership fee per affiliate structure will now apply and the fee has been set at 300 €. New affiliates will be required to pay an initial joining fee of 500 €.
- The next Arterial Network General Council will be held in March 2018. This will allow the current committee to support the relocation of the Secretariat, the establishment of the new office and orientation of new team members over a 12 month period.
These resolutions represent the next phase of the network’s progression that aims to root out weak points in order to tighten the ship.
Redefinition, Renegotiation, Emancipation for the African Renaissance
Professor Felwine Sarr was invited to speak on the morning of the 11th of March about the role of culture and the arts in the African renaissance, referencing economics, philosophy, history and politics. The author of Afrotopia (2016) explored the overarching theme of African subjectivity and confidence that is yet to be adequately established following the colonial era. He urged those present to see the value of arts and culture in reimagining/ repositioning African identity in order to negotiate the trauma of colonialism, the failures of post-colonial leaders and the ever-present schisms between traditional and post-modern concerns. An article dedicated to Professor Sarr’s lecture will be published on the Arterial Network website soon.
Arterial Network Awards Ceremony
On the 11th of March, the Closing Ceremony was held at La Rotonde des Arts to honour those who have sustained the network’s vision and values since its inception. Receiving awards on the night for their contributions to the network as Arterial Network Ambassadors were Korkor Amarteifio, Aadel Essaadani, Peter Rorvik, Mike van Graan, Aisha Dème (Music in Africa), Gertrude Flentge, Yacouba Konaté, Ammar Kessab (Culture Funding Watch), Lupwishi Mbuyamba and Cheick Oumar Sissoko.
In addition to this, the work of the Secretariat staff was celebrated with special Staff Appreciation Awards given to Diana Ramarohetra (Project Manager – Artwatch Africa), Esperance Ayinkamiye (Admin and Finance Manager), Marie-Louise Rouget (Content and Data Manager) and Thandeka Xapa (Office Administrator and Bookkeeper).
The evening included lively performances by the dance troupe Nsoleh, and music and dance by the group Yakomin. The event concluded with the cutting and sharing of an Arterial Network cake – a symbolic gesture to round off the week of continent-wide anniversary celebrations.
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