The Launch of Arterial Network's African Creative Cities programme in Harare, Pointe-Noire, Victoria Mahé and Nouakchott 2017
In its Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies, UNESCO stated that, "In its widest sense, culture may now be said to be the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterise a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs."
In fact, culture plays a crucial role in the sustainable development of cities and territories and is a driving force for sustainable human development and a source of creativity and innovation. It is also a catalyst for sustainability through its specific contributions that promote social equity, inclusive economic progress, environmental balance and sustainable local development. When the value of arts and culture is recognised in its own right and in the same way as political and economic imperatives, cities and their citizens benefit directly from social welfare in an institutional environment, with a sense of belonging due to the pride of being part of a creative city and economic opportunities through the development of creative industries, as well as social cohesion with the promotion of peace through the arts, and finally, the enhancement of the potential of cultural tourism.
Through this programme, Arterial Network is committed to facilitating cooperation and partnerships between local authorities and cultural actors in a way that contributes to the development and implementation of artistic and cultural policies, strategies and programmes in African cities.
Alongside other international programmes focusing on the issue of cities, such as UNESCO's Creative Cities and UCLG-Culture, Arterial Network has set up its programme of Arterial African Creative Cities (AACC) following the success of the pilot project "Ségou Creative City" launched in February 2014 on the sidelines of the Festival sur le Niger in Ségou (Mali).
In order to take a step forward for the continuity and expansion of the programme, Arterial Network then organised a preparatory workshop in Johannesburg on the 1st and 2nd of December 2015 to undertake an analysis of the situation on the continent, of various cities and their creativity. It was an opportunity to develop a programme that will meet the needs of the sector, with the attendance of 13 experts from 11 countries.
Arterial Network’s commitment was also reflected in its participation in UNESCO's "Culture Urban Future" report, particularly in the coordination of the Zone 1 regional study, which focuses on sub-Saharan Africa. It contains case studies such as that of Ségou, as well as elements of comparison and analysis between the different cities of the region.
With this Arterial Network African Creative Cities programme, the network intends to converge its efforts in order to make real impact within the cities, especially on a social level. "Culture and art contribute to social cohesion to a large degree," Mamou Daffé repeats. This considerable impact is also echoed through contributions to the local and national economy. Festivals on the continent, such as Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar) and Festival sur le Niger (Mali), are able to sustain the local economy and tourism in the region. In order to achieve its objectives, the programme encompasses capacity building, networking and advocacy. Capacity building in cultural management, networking between creative cities and, finally, advocacy that will take cultural policies into account.
Thus, this year 2017 will see the launch of the Arterial Network African Creative Cities programme. The programme will be inaugurated in Harare (Zimbabwe) in May, Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo) and Victoria Mahé (Seychelles) in June and finally in Nouakchott (Mauritania) in July. These cities were selected following a call for applications, launched in September 2016, to be part of the Arterial Network's African Creative Cities Programme for the period 2016-2018.
Arterial Network has kindly benefited from the expertise of Dr. Jenny Mbaye, researcher and lecturer in Culture and Creative Industries at City University, London.
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