Namibia to host Arts Summit of Southern Africa

Namibia is to host of the Arts Summit of Southern Africa (ASSA), taking place in the capital from August 21 23 under the theme, Human Creativity is a vital Economic, Social and Cultural Resource.

The summit, the first for Southern Africa, seeks to strengthen the creative economy, across Southern African Development Community (SADC), and to increase awareness of the sector as a vital regional industry. National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) chairperson, Patrick Sam, says the creative sector is largely ignored by policy makers and this impacts investment to the sector, which ultimately affects the productivity and effectiveness of other industries, as the creative sector offers numerous opportunities for cross-sectorial partnerships and initiatives, such as with tourism and trade. The summit will promote the need for inclusion of the creative industries in national and regional development strategies, whilst ensuring that cross-sectorial opportunities are nurtured and explored, adds Sam.

Close to 150 delegates from across SADC and beyond, representing government institutions, national arts councils, cultural agencies, policy makers, professional associations, practitioners and educators from the creative industry and other sectors that have cross cutting interests that can positively impact the creative industry, are expected to attend.

The creative industry is vital to the sustainable development of Namibia and other SADC countries, yet there is a perceived lack of understanding and doubts about the opportunities and benefits of investing in this sector and the growth it can bring to the region. One of the fundamental issues is a lack of evidence-based strategies and initiatives in the region, and for the region, despite there being a wealth of experience and knowledge available. The summit aims to address this by assembling experts from around the world to deliberate on best practice, strategies and recommend the way forward in shaping the right environment for the creative economy to flourish in Southern Africa, says Sam.

Other industries such as manufacturing and logistics are already integrated at a regional level. Ensuring that regional protocol is also established in the creative industry will support the overall sustainable development of SADC, as well as benefit its individual nations. Evidence is a major solution to developing this protocol and the summit will bring together experts with broad knowledge and case studies on the positive impacts that the creative economy can have on the overall economy.

Establishing facts about the potential GDP benefits of the creative economy and the investment required will enable regional stakeholders to make an evidence-based case for a regional focus on the creative industries.

The summit is about instilling an understanding that the creative economy is vital to the development of Namibia and the rest of the SADC countries. Without inclusion of the creative economy as a key pillar, we will not be able to achieve equality and address unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the summit is to make a consolidated argument, about how key the creative economy is for our economy, Sam adds.

Topics for discussion will include a healthy ecology of creative individuals; the need for evidence-based policy making for the creative industry; creating an enabling environment for investment in the creative economy; the role of cultural leadership in strengthening the creative economy; the importance of the creative economy for national development and regional integration; and identifying new opportunities for the creative economies in Technology, Marketing, Partnerships and Multi-sectoral Approaches.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia