AFRIFESTNET is an African Festivals Network established by Arterial Network. The network was officially launched in Ghana in 2012 where 37 festivals from 18 countries across all regions were present. Since then, AFRIFESTNET has grown to have over 150 members representing festivals and events in theatre, music, dance, film, heritage, literature, visual arts and multidisciplinary events from all five regions.
AFRIFESTNET is managed by a committee comprising festival managers from across the continent. To date its work has been focused on networking and capacity-building. This has included the development of an online African Festival directory and a Best Practice Toolkit for festival managers made available for free online.
AFRIFESTNET’s vision is to develop, consolidate, build and promote the independent sustainability of African arts festivals and cultural events as key platforms to nurture, celebrate and project excellent and emerging African artists and creative work, nationally, regionally and internationally.
In June 2010, Arterial Network facilitated a forum of festival directors of strategic festivals on the continent which took place alongside the Zanzibar International Film Festival. One of the aims of the forum was to explore the possibility of a network of African festivals (similar to the European Festival Association) where festivals work together to build capacity, commission new work, coordinate content and programming and attract new audiences. The forum was attended by forty-one delegates representing more than twenty festivals from Africa. A Task Team comprising six members was elected to work towards recruiting other festivals and major events in dance, theatre, literature, visual arts, film and music into the network in the effort to work towards the establishment of an African Festivals Network.
Over the next two years, work and planning progressed with an official launch taking place in Ghana on April 20, 2021 with the support of the British Council. The launch was attended almost fifty participants consisting of directors or representatives from 18 festivals or cultural events from all five African regions. The countries represented were Morocco (North Africa); Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Togo, (West Africa); Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon (Central Africa); Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda (East Africa) and Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).
This launch event consisted of both a seminar component on the economic, social and other contributions of arts festivals and events in Africa, as well as a formal meeting to launch the network with the adoption of a constitutional framework, a programme of action and the election of a 8-person Steering Committee to lead the organisation over the next two years. A Secretariat was also chosen to coordinate and drive the activities of the African Arts Festival Network, as well as regional representatives.
The festival network was identified to be of value to member organizations, as it would promote networking, information and resource sharing, funding mobilization, effective lobbying and encouragement of new initiatives through education and training.
The creation of AFRIFESTNET marks the establishment of a cohesive collaborative network of African festivals. The Network, which provides best practice governance, capacity and networking opportunities to its members, is actually open to membership from arts or cultural festivals on the African continent, predominantly those staging theatre, dance, music, visual arts, literature or film. These festivals form the primary target group of the proposed Action. Nevertheless, associate membership from any arts or cultural festival worldwide that supports and has empathy for the vision, challenges and goals of the Network are welcomed, and Associate members are encouraged to participate in the development of the body of expertise and information sharing activities of the Network.
AFRIFESTNET’s overall objective: To contribute to sustainable development in Africa through a strengthened and networked cultural sector and as specific objectives: First of all, to build capacity of festival organisers and managers in Africa. Then, to exchange experience, information and best practice among cultural festivals at national, regional and inter-regional level, and finally, to build sustainability for African festivals.
Visit the AFRIFESTNET website at www.afrifestnet.org