Zanzignite, the regional meeting of the ACP-EU Culture Programme for East Africa, was held alongside the 26th Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). This meeting, organised in partnership with the Ignite Culture consortium (British Council and Heva Fund), took place from 25 to 27 June 2023 in Stone Town, the historic city of Zanzibar.
Zanzignite was an opportunity to provide a platform for visibility, exchange of experience and evaluation of the impact of the Ignite Culture programme in East Africa. Over the three days, presentations, panel discussions and capacity-building sessions engaged consortium members, programme beneficiary operators, the European Union Delegation in Tanzania, members of the Technical Assistance to the ACP-EU Culture Programme, as well as the general public, on issues crucial to the development of the cultural and creative industries (CCI) in the region.
A first panel highlighted the essential role of festivals as places for exchange, sharing and training, over and above their function as showcases for creativity and cultural diversity. The importance of linking cultural tourism to creative activities was highlighted as a way of encouraging human interaction and going beyond traditional heritage sites. Understanding the festival audience is essential to developing effective marketing strategies.
The second panel addressed the issue of creating an enabling environment for the development of CCIs in East Africa, highlighting their crucial role in economic and social development. However, participants also noted the challenges associated with the lack of adequate support from public authorities in the region.
Encouraging CCIs, including film and audiovisual, is of paramount importance. This requires active dialogue between governments and civil society to bring about significant change. In the absence of national policies, international conventions, such as those of the ILO, can be mobilised to defend artists’ rights. Artists also need to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore the opportunities offered by the private sector.
The issue of mobility for artists and cultural professionals remains a major obstacle for CCIs in Africa, particularly for women artists. In this context, the Heva Fund is developing a toolkit for mapping cultural policies in Africa to facilitate mobility and address these challenges.
Other sessions also highlighted the role of international partners in supporting CCIs, cultural dialogue, the promotion of human rights and inclusion in East Africa, notably Spain, the European Union and the British Council.
Finally, a closed session in hybrid format bringing together partner organisations, beneficiaries and the Technical Assistance team of the ACP-EU Culture programme provided an opportunity to gather and put into perspective feedback from operators on the added value of the measures put in place and the sustainability of the projects supported.
The third ACP-EU Culture regional meeting was an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges, emerging trends and opportunities in the field of CCIs in East Africa, highlighting the importance of collaboration, cultural entrepreneurship and institutional support in promoting their development and influence.