South Africa: Cultural Policy Template for Africa

By Martin ChemhereJohannesburg: The South Africa headquartered arts organization with the help of likeminded supporters is staking its claim in to progress the arts, culture and general entertainment industries across the African continent.


The visual art of photography in South Africa based Kenyan  photographer - Antony Kaminju’s work titled “The King”

The visual art of photography in South Africa based Kenyan photographer - Antony Kaminju’s work titled “The King”

On Friday 1 April Arterial Network announced jointly with the Commonwealth Foundation and DOEN Foundation the launch of ‘Adapting the Wheel: Cultural Policies for Africa’, a generic cultural policy which aims to strengthen support for the cultural sector in Africa.

Despite falling on April ‘Fools Day’, the announcement isn’t a prank at all, and is intended to take the growth and development of African arts to a new higher level.

The policy booklet can be downloaded from the Arterial Network website: under “Research” and is protected under Creative Commons License.

‘Adapting the Wheel’ addresses the lack of strong cultural policy in many Commonwealth countries, twenty of which are in Africa. It was developed by a twelve-member Task Group, and aims to assist artists, cultural practitioners and stakeholders in Africa to develop effective policy in order to raise the standard of arts and cultural practice.

Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Vijay Krishnarayan commented: “The Commonwealth Foundation is pleased to be a partner with the Arterial Network on this project, responding to civil society’s call at the 2009 Commonwealth Summit to strengthen the creative and cultural industries through the implementation of strong and sustainable frameworks. With this key document, it is hoped that the rich array of cultural talent in African countries will have the opportunity to flourish and reach its full potential.”

The template generic policy can be applied and adapted to a range of African national contexts. Adoption of the template will improve support for the creative and cultural industries, develop the creative economy and ensure cultural diversity is protected and promoted.

Secretary General of Arterial Network, Mike Van Graan commented: “The Millennium Development Goals have particular resonance for Africa and at their 2010 summit to reflect on progress in meeting the 2015 deadline for the MDGs, world leaders recognised that culture is integral to development. The Commonwealth Foundation and DOEN Foundation has done excellent work in promoting the links between culture and development, which is why we are delighted to have been able to partner with them in producing this Cultural Policy Framework.”

In addition to the framework, the Arterial Network will develop an ‘arts and culture barometer’, a tool to assist African governments and civil society networks in developing, monitoring and evaluating national cultural policies.

Arterial Network is a continent-wide network of artists, creative sector NGOs, cultural industry companies, activists, educational institutions, festivals and others engaged in the African arts, culture and heritage sectors. Initiated at a conference on the theme Revitalising Africa’s Cultural Assets on Goiree Island, Senegal in March 2007, Arterial Network has grown substantially in three years with 132 delegates from 28 African countries attending its second biennial conference in Johannesburg, September 2009. Its Secretariat is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation established in 1965, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth governments, and guided by Commonwealth values and priorities. It aims is to strengthen civil society in the achievement of Commonwealth priorities – democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and gender equality, poverty eradication and sustainable, people-centred development, and to promote arts and culture.

The ambition of the DOEN Foundation helps build a world in which everyone can make a contribution. The foundation is looking for frontrunners that will make a positive contribution to cultivating positive effects on climate change; cultivating an open society based on solidarity; and promoting new economy.