NIRAS explores challenges facing the country’s arts and culture sector in its effort to transform creative industries into new business opportunities
There are jobs and money to be made in arts and culture if a legal environment exists for creative industries to prosper just like any other business.
The creative sector has never played a big role in Zambia’s economy and, until the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism and Arts (MOTA) in 2011, the arts and culture industry never had a ministry of its own. But MOTA’s scope is very large – covering wildlife and tourism development – and arts and culture has often struggled for attention and support.
The Zambian National Arts Council (NAC), the coordinating body of all arts activities nationwide, has been working to develop the business dimension of Zambia’s creative sector, but its efforts have been hampered by limited resources and skills.
For a decade now, the EU has contributed to several interventions to improve the competitiveness of Zambian arts and culture. Last year, in the context of the EU Framework Contract Services for the Implementation of External Aid (FWC SIEA) Lot 4 – Human Development and Safety Net – it awarded NIRAS a contract to explore the challenges that continue to plague the sector.
These challenges inhibit the growth of business and make it difficult for artists to reform, restructure and reposition themselves to remain relevant in the ever-growing creative sector.
The assignment involved working closely with the NAC, developing the capacity of its staff and board members to provide business support services and supporting the Council in its policy level work to create an enabling environment for the development of the creative industry in Zambia.
A key output of the 7-month project was a one-stop-shop – the Arts Resource Hub – to enable creatives access to finance, training and business development services and resources.
Over the course of implementing the six-month-long project, the NIRAS team together with the NAC facilitated an Art Business Forum where more than 100 artists and representatives from the creative sector were invited to a three-day workshop that served as mapping exercise for challenges facing the industry. Following the forum, the NAC recognised the need to adjust its business development services.
In cooperation with a local ICT provider, Hut 2 Hut, NIRAS created a digital catalogue of services that has since been integrated with the NAC website. NAC personnel receive and assess inquiries from artists, match these with and refer them to an expert, and follow up on the request until completion.
In addition to the one-stop-shop and a capacity development plan for NAC staff that enables the Council to promote and support art for business, the project’s legal expert conducted a review of the 1994 NAC Act and related legislation and recommended amendments that must be passed by parliament. The process can take up to one year.
An important part of the legal environment are industry standards, which the legal expert also developed and NAC can adopt in the form of a Code of Conduct. The code comprises a set of values that artists should practice when conducting their business.
Once the revised Act and Code of Conduct are in place, Zambia will be well on its way to ensuring an enabling environment for creative businesses to thrive, a development welcomed by artists across the country.
For further details, visit the NAC’s website: https://www.arts.gov.zm/