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What is Arterial Network?

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Arterial Network is a dynamic Pan-African, civil-society network of artists, cultural activists, entrepreneurs, enterprises, NGOs, institutions, and donors active in Africa’s creative and cultural sectors. Established as a member-based, non-profit organisation, Arterial Network operates all across the continent in both English and French, and is led by an elected Steering Committee which represents the five regions of the continent. Arterial Network's five core focus areas to support the arts are advocacy (through the Artwatch Africa project), capacity building, market access, knowledge management and information dissemination. Its Continental Secretariat is now based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, as of the 1st of February 2017. Arterial Network celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2017 in Abidjan.


Arterial Network's vision is to ensure a dynamic and prosperous African creative sector, engaged in qualitative creative practices that contribute to positive and lasting changes in governance policies, as well as cultural, economic and social living environments.


Arterial Network’s mission is to create civil society networks of cultural role players and empower their work for the cultural dimension of development.


The aims of Arterial Network are as follows:

  • to build effective, sustainable in-country, regional and continental networks within and across arts disciplines to play advocacy and lobbying roles within countries, regions, on the continent and internationally as appropriate.
  • to collect and distribute relevant information, data and documents to empower civil society arts and culture organisations in African countries and regions to plan and take informed action in their interests.
  • to provoke debate, discussions and theorising around arts, culture, creative industries and contemporary arts and culture discourses and to develop African positions and leadership on such issues.
  • to help to build national, regional, continental and international circuits (festivals, outlets, etc.) to distribute African cultural goods and services and enable African artists to tour their works and to generate income through their creative output.
  • to facilitate the training and development of human resources required to practice, distribute and market the arts and creative goods and services of the African continent.
  • to mobilise local, regional, continental and international resources in support of the development, promotion and distribution of African creative goods and services.
  • to improve the working and living conditions, and to defend the rights of artists and creative practitioners on the African continent.


As a result of its members being present in English-speaking and French-speaking African countries, Arterial Network conducts all of its work in these two languages. Its activities are led by five core focus areas: advocacy, capacity building, market access, knowledge management and information dissemination.

Advancing Africa's Creative Sector

Please visit our NETWORK page to learn more about our affiliates and representation across the continent and our NEWS page to see our latest activities. 

Click here to see our promotional video.

Click here to BECOME A MEMBER.

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Some of our achievements include...


Arterial Network lends support and expertise to lobby governments for change, using international instruments to develop the national legal framework.

Through its Artwatch Africa project, dedicated to the recognition and promotion of artists rights and freedom of creative expression, Arterial Network has brought public attention to arts advocacy through the release of the original song Droit de Vivre (2015) and a free e-book compilation of poems, essays and short stories, titled How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa (2016).

Similarly, Arterial Network regularly organises workshops to empower artists and other professionals across the sector with knowledge about artists rights, freedom of creative expression and protection from repression.

In October 2017, Arterial Network revitalised its Cultural Policy Task Group (CPTG) which advocates for the effectiveness of ratified conventions and promotes good governance throughout the creative sector.

Capacity Building

In order to develop skills within the creative sector, Arterial Network has run numerous training workshops incorporating African experts who are equipped to address pertinent issues, such as organisational health for arts organisations (the SHIRIKA programme), the ins-and-outs of Cultural Management, and the numerous barriers that discourage women from taking up leadership positions (African Women in Cultural Leadership programme - AWCL).

Since 2017, Arterial Network has initiated the creation of African Training Hubs, currently being developed in three geographical areas, namely Abidjan, Nairobi and Harare. Partnerships are in progress with major African training institutes operating in the sector to carry out training and mentoring activities, involving cultural sector professionals.

Arterial Network has also published multiple, open-source toolkits that are available online here, covering topics such as Arts Fundraising, Arts Advocacy and Networking, Arts Marketing, and Project Management.

Click here to watch a summary video of the Capacity Building programmes held in 2016.

Market Access

From 2011 to 2015, Arterial Network organised the annual African Creative Economy Conference (ACEC) that cycled through the five regions of Africa, beginning in Nairobi (East Africa) in 2011, then Dakar (West Africa) in 2012, Cape Town (Southern Africa) in 2013, Rabat (North Africa) in 2014 and concluding finally in Yaoundé (Central Africa) in 2015. The ACEC acted as a market access benchmark occasion that formed part of the process of growing the outputs and efficacy of the creative sector.

Arterial Network continues to grow market access in other ways. Drawing on the pilot experience of “Ségou Creative City” (2016) in Mali (West Africa), the Arterial African Creative Cities (AACC) programme aims to encourage and develop advocacy, capacity building and networking initiatives to strengthen local authorities’ approaches to arts and culture in African urban environments. The four cities selected to be part of the AACC programme for 2016-2018 are Harare in Zimbabwe, Pointe-Noire in Congo, Victoria in Seychelles and Nouakchott in Mauritania.

Research and Knowledge Management

To better understand the movement, issues and perspectives of the sector, Arterial Network contributes to the development of research and the dissemination of research results. To this end, the Network has produced the following:

- Adapting the wheel which has been translated into English, French and Arabic, and has been used in the formulation and/ or revision of cultural policies in Zimbabwe, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius and elsewhere
- Towards an African Arts and Culture Index, produced in collaboration with CPTG experts

In 2016, Arterial Network also contributed to the UNESCO report « Culture Urban Future ». A number of Arterial Network produced research publications are available online.

In order to give a logical and practical follow-up to the lessons learned from the ACEC, Arterial Network will produce a publication based on this series of conferences in 2018.

Information Collection and Dissemination - Communications

Arterial Network has established an active online community across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube that shares the latest research, news, resources, events and opportunities relevant to the African arts and cultural sector. Arterial Network also has a website ( and publishes a monthly newsletter in both English and French.


Relaunch of the Cultural Policy Task Group (CPTG)

The CPTG is a team of experts working across the cultural sector, including the cultural and creative industries. Its mission is to promote favourable conditions for the cycle of development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of cultural policies. The CPTG provides specific support to affiliates and civil society in the sector.

African Fund for Culture Project

The African Fund for Culture is a continent-wide fund for the professionalisation of the creative sector. The fund is intended for all cultural actors and artists in order to celebrate their diversity, with special attention to young people and women. The African Fund for Culture was officially launched in Abidjan in November 2017.

African Cultural and Creative Industries Fair Project

In addition, Arterial Network are set to launch the African Cultural and Creative Industries Fair (FICCA) in 2018 to develop market access at a continental level, and to follow on from the five cultural economy conferences.