Government to establish nine regional cultural centres

Government to establish nine regional cultural centres
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The State Minister for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo, had announced that the government intends to establish cultural centers in order to nurture the talents of emerging artists.

Mutuuzo made these remarks during the unveiling of two crucial reports on the state of the creative industry post the Covid-19 pandemic, a joint effort between the government, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MGLSD), and UNESCO.

Mutuuzo emphasised the importance of collaboration between local and international artists, citing examples of successful musical projects that have benefited from such partnerships.

"We also aim to develop cultural centers in different areas, a total of nine centers. These centers will provide support to upcoming artists,"she said.

The recently launched report highlighted the fact that established artists are growing older, with many over the age of 47.

This led to the question of where the next generation of artists is.

Mutuuzo advised emerging artists to embrace the digital space.

"You no longer need to hold grand seminars or conferences, or rely on major platforms to market yourself like established artists. Instead, you can promote yourself digitally,"she said.

Mutuuzo shared the success story of Alien Skin, an artist who gained fame rapidly by utilizing the digital space.

She urged young artists to follow suit and capitalize on the opportunities available to them.

The two reports focused on the dire socio-economic conditions faced by artists, identified digital skills gaps among industry practitioners, and made recommendations for new policies.

These projects ran concurrently over the past year and aimed to review the regulatory environment for the culture and creative industry, design new policy frameworks, and enhance digital skills within the audiovisual sector, among other objectives.

The government has previously enacted laws and implemented incentives to support the local arts industry, including reviewing the national cultural policy in 2006, launching a film fund, and establishing the National Cultural Forum as an umbrella body for artists.

Over the years, the government has frequently collaborated with UNESCO on development projects for the local cultural sector, including a recent joint initiative with the European Union that proposed a new policy framework for the film industry.

Despite these efforts, Uganda's cultural industry still lags behind global statistics, which indicate that the sector provides over 30 million jobs worldwide, employing more individuals aged 15-29 than any other industry.

Mzee Bwanika, the Executive Secretary of Pearlwood and also the Project Manager of UNESCO Aschberg and the Open Digital Roadmap Project, emphasized the need to review the current laws and policies. According to their findings, the commercialization of culture has resulted in artists not earning from their creative works, highlighting a significant gap.

Bwanika urged artists to collaborate with institutions, as it would be challenging to engage the government as individuals.

He stressed the importance of strengthening institutions and suggested that the government should focus on this aspect to facilitate progress within the industry.

Polly Kamukama, a performing arts lecturer at Makerere University identified several challenges hindering the sector's full potential, including unfavorable regulatory frameworks, insufficient funding, and limited skills among practitioners.

Kamukama recognised the transformative power of digital distribution platforms such as Netflix and local film distribution platforms, emphasizing the need to train filmmakers to effectively utilize these platforms.

Judy Ogana, UNESCO's Regional Programme Officer for East Africa, expressed optimism that the two reports would address some of these challenges.

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