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4th May, 2022

The Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) will be launched in eight African countries between May and June 2022.

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 implemented with the help of other partners in Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia, with plans to expand to more countries and regions in the future.

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: “This network is extremely important as the space for free thinkers on the continent continues to dwindle; artists are finding it increasingly difficult to practise any of the creative arts that require conscious use of skill and creative imagination. We 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. We can’t celebrate African creators’ achievements across disciplines without acknowledging the works we can’t enjoy due to censorship in the arts and the internet – or the many more works that can’t be envisioned or made because of these restrictions.”

Below are the launch dates for May 2022:

  • 05.05.22 – Ethiopia

  • 06.05.22 – Uganda

  • 09.05.22 – Mozambique

  • 11.05.22 – Zambia

  • 12.05.22 – Kenya

Dates for June will be announced soon!

About PANAF

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.

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