Let Art Diversify Our Economies

Art that forms a greater part of the modern creative economy is one that has been evolving over the years. Just as the previously discussed information and communication technology, it has prospects of creation of job opportunities, diversification and development of the economy. As we face depletion of natural resources, a tool that most African economies are based on, diversifying has become a matter of pivotal importance and one that needs urgent attention. As we manoeuvre untapped markets and economies in search of an alternative route to development, research has proven that the arts, especially in Southern African remain embryonic.

Economists and scholars fully agree that the arts, or rather creative economies would form for most African societies a healthy and uneasy to perish branch of the economy. One that would later sustain Africans long after natural resources deplete. Each African society prides itself with its deep-rooted culture, cultures that are the envy of the western world. It is in this culture that most of our arts are fundamentally based. Advantageously for us, artists find deeper meaning and motivation from the landscapes of Africa, to the African mother breast-feeding in her hut or even the sound of wildlife deep in the Savuti and the magical African wilderness. Our heritage and culture is truly a bottomless well of inspiration.

There are several countries at the forefront of this diversity. Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry exports extensively their production and seems to be reaping the benefits. The film industry there is said to employ a great number of people, so large that is sits just below the agricultural field in economic contribution to the country. Similarly South African and Senegalese musicians have weaved within their different genres elements of their respective cultures. A feel that is much acknowledged internationally. Kelly Khumalo, an artist in South Africa is a contemporary musician who gels in her style of sound the beauty of her native language in songs such as ‘Asine’. This is getting her international recognition as she tours the western world.

Sadly the progress is still minimal and can evidently be detected mostly in African countries that are a step further in terms of development than the others. Though policy makers within government institutions realize the dire need to incorporate the arts as a modern way of relaying information, they are still unable to realize the economical prospect in the arts. For example my country, Botswana. Each year in its plea to eradicate HIV/AIDS along with other health and social ills sets aside money to mobilize into the arts. Do not get me wrong it is quite commendable how the government have sourced a way in which they can easily target the youth. However I am of the opinion that with the pool of money used in this field, realizing the arts as a way forward in economical diversification would help curb issues that are currently hindering development such as unemployment. Not being political in any way it is clear that our country sees no economic potential in media. The hands in which the Broadcasting Board rests upon corroborates my two thebe theory.

How do we reach for an economy inhabits in its system creative industries? Freeing the ruling media institutions of political chains. Policy makers should also work at creating an environment with the system that caters from creative minds and create a platform where they can express their talents and merge them into the business arena – Maitisong festival is a great attempt in doing exactly this. Artists too are responsible for lobbying from their government and non governmental institutions operative platforms in which they can fully articulate their talent and turn them into viable businesses. Lastly society needs to break away from neglecting local art and running for international productions. It is in their support that a beam of light can surface for artists.