19th May, 2022
The Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) chapters in Rwanda, The Gambia and Nigeria will be launched in June. This comes after the initiative was launched in Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
PANAF was unveiled in November 2021 by Selam in response to the need of an active and inclusive regional voice in the creative sector that could raise awareness of incidents of artistic freedom violations and collaborate with artistic rights advocates in regional and national advocacy efforts. The project is being carried out with the assistance of creative sector partners from the eight countries.
PANAF and partners will work together to develop a unified voice for artists, and cultural producers advocating for artistic freedom in the music and film industries. The project will include capacity building, lobbying, research, cultural policy development, workshops, conference and report publication as well as monitoring, and documentation, all with the goal of forming alliances for knowledge exchange and cooperative advocacy campaigns.
“In light of recent worries about artistic freedom, this is extremely vital and ambitious,” Selam founder and executive director Teshome Wondimu said. “Music and culture serve as bearers of identities and reflect the social fabric of our countries. Music and culture are vulnerable as a result of their status, since they are easy to condemn and turn into targets for symbolic politics. Together with our partners we shall explore every option to foster creativity and the protection of creative works, as well as engage relevant country policy makers toward creating an enabled environment for artists – this, we believe, is the most essential area of concern.”
Selam regional programme director Lucy ilado said: “We’ve launched in five countries so far, and it’s been an incredible experience. Despite the fact that we recognized how relevant this initiative was, we were nonetheless overwhelmed by the government’s, artists’, and other stakeholders’ support. We recognize that there are high expectations, and we will do all possible to meet them together. We particularly hope to have positive conversations with legislators on the importance of respecting and protecting the freedom of all artists to produce and disseminate their work without fear of retaliation.”
Below are the launch dates for June 2022:
10.06.22 – Rwanda
18.06.22 – The Gambia
20.06.22 – Nigeria
The Pan African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) is a new network-building initiative initiated by Selam, a cultural organisation that has worked for over 20 years in cultural development and development with offices in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Sweden. Funded by the Swedish Arts Council, this initiative seeks to create a Pan-African inclusive voice for organisations connecting African artists and culture producers defending artistic freedom.
It is being developed in collaboration with partners in Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, with plans to involve several other countries in the future.