Tanzania, African musicians set up drive for arts funding

Friday May 26 2023
Vitali Maembe

Tanzanian musician Vitali Maembe performing on stage. PHOTO | FELIX MIRINGU | NMG


Performers from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana have helped launch a five-year project to try to secure more funding for arts and culture, aiming to persuade African governments to allocate at least 1 percent of their budgets.

The project, called Connect for Culture Africa (CfCA) has been started by the African Union in collaboration with Selam Ethiopia, a non-governmental organisation that uses film, music and circus performances to address issues such as women rights.

"We want to empower artists. A lot of artists want to participate in these discussions about good governance, human rights but they are scared of the consequences," Regional Programme Director at Selam Lucy Ilado said.

It is not yet clear whether African governments, many of whom are struggling with debt repayments and the high costs of living, will be able to allocate more cash to the arts.

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The CfCA organisers said they would work with government agencies, research institutions, artists and civil society with the aim of budget proposals, budget bills, and, in countries where the process is further along, discussions on increased budget allocation to the culture and creative sectors.


Vitali Maembe, a musician from Tanzania who took part in Thursday night's concert to launch the project, told Reuters he hoped that more funding would help artists to be better educated.

"It is very rare you go to the university and see funds for the art students," he said.

Hundreds of revellers from Ethiopia and other African countries attended the concert, with music performances featuring saxophones, guitars, drums and traditional Ethiopian instruments.

The African Union was not immediately available for further comment.