DEVELOPMENT TOPICS: Arts and culture
Arts and culture have long been used to create social cohesion, strengthen democracy, and accelerate social progress.
The ‘business case’ to invest in the arts in Africa concerns its ability to build bridges and work towards peaceful ends, even when it resists political oppression. A 2022 report entitled ‘Africa’s Soft Power: Can Africa’s creativity transform the continent?’, notes that the creative and cultural industries across Africa generate around US$4.2 billion in revenue and is outpacing the growth of other sectors on the continent.
The importance of investing in arts and culture
The private sector should regard the creative industries as economic enablers that can create jobs and increase a country’s export earnings. As arts and culture increasingly work hand in hand with technology – in digital art, video games, and streaming services, for example – new markets are created, and young Africans can gain access via their cellphones. In many instances, public-private partnerships help to launch initiatives and bring them to market, with philanthropy playing a meaningful role.
Arts and culture benefit society
The benefits of art and culture were clearly visible during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during lockdowns, when many people turned to the creative industries for a sense of hope, connection and inspiration. The mental health benefits of art were also highlighted, with creative works helping us to process our experiences.
Unfortunately, while high-profile artists can earn well, most artists struggle to earn a living wage and rely on teaching jobs, commissions or grants to continue working. This means that, as a society, it becomes more difficult to preserve our culture, communicate a sense of shared experience, and appreciate different perspectives.