The director of the Centre Culturel Kôrè, Mamou Daffé, discusses the future of the AWA programme
Attached to the defence of local values, Mamou Daffé is the head of several organisations and events in Mali. In particular, he directs the Centre Culturel Kôrè in Ségou, a partner of the Institut français for the ACP-EU Culture programme: Support for the Culture and Creation sectors in West Africa – AWA, implemented by the Organisation of ACP States and financed by the European Union. Following the European Union-African Union summit in Brussels in February 2022, he talks about the dynamics and challenges associated with West African culture.
Updated on 09/05/2022
As director of several leading cultural institutions in Mali (Centre Culturel Kôrè, Fondation Festival sur le Niger), you have been working for many years to promote culture as part of a local development approach. How is the change of scale taking place since the launch of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) - EU Programme towards a viable cultural industry, with the positioning of the Centre Culturel Kôrè as a hub for the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) in 16 West African countries?
We were very happy to host this ACP-EU Culture programme for the support of the cultural and creative sectors in West Africa: it has allowed a change of scale, consecrating the centre as a hub at the service of the industries. This change has, first of all, taken place at the level of the dynamisation and competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries, all along the value chain. It has supported the development of the digital economy by supporting cultural stakeholders in their digital transition. It has also strengthened the stakeholders' resilience and diversity, since it is both a funding programme and a programme for professionalising the sector. Finally, it addresses networking and pooling. In this way, the programme acts structurally over a long period of time, while giving the stakeholders time to grow their project and work in peace. We really leave room for creativity in an innovative and dynamic spectrum.
Can you tell us about the dynamics created by the implementation of the ACP-EU Culture Programme:Support to the cultural and creative sectors - AWA on the 3 axes Financing / Capacity Building / Networking?
We see a synergy, a considerable evolution around these three components and the consortium is already imposing itself by its dynamism. A summer symposium was held a few months ago with all the partners we have financed. The meeting of these fifteen major players in West African culture gave us the feeling of breaking down the barriers between states and languages. They are now in a network and we will support them for the next three years. Alongside them, we are working on specialised training, based on coaching and mentoring, with a framework that will deal with these issues according to disciplines and needs. At the same time, we want to highlight African and West African content, its difference, and the specificity of this local culture. It is therefore a device that allows us to boost this local commitment, to move forward and establish partnerships for a better tomorrow.
What are the opportunities and challenges of the 2022 call for projects of the "Fund for the promotion of West African cultures"?
At the end of January 2022, we launched a call for projects that aims to enhance creative content by promoting aid for creation, production, image education, as well as the development of means of dissemination, and also physical and digital distribution. On the recommendation of the European Union, we wanted to give stakeholders the chance to access this fund twice, with the aim of supporting them in the long term. We must salute the vision of the European Union, which is trying to support the stakeholders of these projects over the long term. This is a determining factor and it takes us out of the classic funding model. From now on, our great challenge is to access the market with competitive products and we must be professional. All cultures are important and valuable: the arts help to affirm the identity of peoples and strengthen social cohesion in the creation of a creative economy.
Do you have more details on the first call for projects 2022?
Within the framework of the first call for projects relating to the Structuring Fund for Cultural Operators in 2021, the fifteen best projects were selected for funding over three years. The choice was difficult among hundreds of projects from thirteen West African countries. The second call focused on the ACP Cultural Enhancement Fund. This is one-year funding, renewable once. Our calls are translated into two or three languages: this is a strong desire and recommendation of the ACP, which provides resources to support the action of cultural industries in a sustainable way. I think that the first call was a strong element, with a substantial amount (150,000 euros per project over three years) and covering several disciplines. There are English-speaking projects, all regions are concerned. We can observe a cross-over, a spectrum of disciplines, which is taken care of by this first call of the Structuring Fund for Cultural Operators. It is also important that we bring our African content into the digital age and that we work on its promotion through the West African Cultures Enhancement Fund.
You defend an entrepreneurial vision of culture. Tell us about your vision of CCIs in Africa.
My vision of CCIs in Africa is one of cultural and creative industries that are a lever for sustainable growth, but also offer the possibility of creating innovative jobs, based on our values, our local models and our cultural identities. We need well-trained, professional cultural actors who understand the challenges and issues of CCIs. Thanks to the Maaya model of cultural entrepreneurship that we have developed, we can work on management, but also on local values. We need to humanise the process, while offering collaboration instead of competition. We have a moral compass and we apply it to our community, in addition to ourselves. There is a need to adapt to the local industry and we believe that this model has a great future.
In the aftermath of the sixth European Union-African Union summit, held in Brussels in February 2022, what is your vision for a renewed EU/AU partnership?
It was a great moment of communication and sharing. We appreciated these discussions because we were able to talk to each other openly in order to redefine this new partnership between us. The proposed ACP-EU Culture Programme: Support for the Culture and Creation sectors in West Africa – AWA is an illustration of what the new EU/AU alliance could be, as we need a collaboration based on the empowerment of all parties. We are in an arrangement where we are on an equal footing, where we work in an equal partnership. We must not remain in a wait-and-see position, but rather take on all our responsibilities and keep our commitments. With this rigour, we can move forward together. We have been lucky enough to get funding to support our own culture and it is extremely important to recognise the needs, as well as the importance and value of the other. By understanding the extraordinary richness of being different, I think this summit will allow us to move forward, with dynamic partnerships.
In February 2022, the 18th edition of Ségou' Art - Festival on the Niger, dedicated to music and art on the banks of the Niger River in Ségou, and the Maaya Africa Forum, an international meeting for young entrepreneurs from the African continent, were also held. These major events that you organise also hosted the Cultural Caravan for Peace, a Sahel-Trans-Saharan project. Can you tell us about culture as a force for resistance?
Once again, we were honoured to welcome Africa to the village of Ségou. Thirty-one countries were represented in the Maaya Africa Forum and we shared a very interesting collaborative space. A dozen young emerging artists came to exhibit their talent through contemporary art in this hub dynamic. Since the beginning of this cultural programme, twenty years ago, we have definitely been part of this notion of resistance through and for culture. We have understood the strength, but also the power of music, as a force for cohesion and bringing people together. We know today that it facilitates peaceful coexistence between our peoples. This year, we had more than 90,000 spectators on the closing weekend and only culture and art are capable of such a feat. At that moment, it was as if the country had nothing else to live for, as if the city was a place of peace.
You are one of the initiators of the African Cultural Fund (ACF). What synergies of action do you think could be put in place between this fund and the ACP-EU Culture Programme x to support CCIs in West Africa?
From the beginning of AWA, we indicated that we would work with the ACF platform. We started directly from the experience of the African Cultural Fund with great artists from the continent. For twelve months, we have already had a very dynamic partnership. With the ACP-EU Culture Programme: Support for the Culture and Creation sectors in West Africa – AWA, there is no question of doing extraordinary work and seeing it disappear when EU funding ends in 2024. On the contrary, the four accredited IKAMs (Instituts Kôrè des Arts et Métiers), training centres for trainers in the CCI professions, will continue to develop skills, while supporting stakeholders. In parallel, the African Cultural Fund will also continue to finance operators and artists. A real continuity is foreseen in this collaboration, as well as a continuation of the actions through the ACF and the IKAM. This is how it was conceived from the start, and by inserting it into a West African system, I think that this is the great strength of our project, which was submitted within the framework of the ACP-EU Culture Programme.
The ACP-EU Culture programme: Support for the Culture and Creation sectors in West Africa – AWA is implemented by the Institut français and the Centre Culturel Kôrè de Ségou, financed by the European Union and supported by the Organisation of ACP States.
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