Monday, November 29, 2021

Creatives gathered at the Art Life Conference on Thursday Nov 25, 2021 at
the UoN Towers, Chandaria Auditorium

The University of Nairobi, Art-Life Group, Kenya National Commission- UNESCO (KNATCOM) and Safaricom PLC in partnership with various stakeholders in the creative industry held a conference dubbed Art-Life Keep-it-lit conference.

The conference provided a platform for policy makers, academia, corporates and individual artists to genuinely reflect on the growth and economic index of the creative and cultural industry in Kenya in a bid to provide profound evidence that the country is ready and qualified to stand against the best in the world of music, fashion, film, and other cultural innovations.

The goal is to utilize research, invest in focused energies and to engage with passionate thinkers in academia, civil society, public and private sectors and most importantly in the creative sphere in order to spearhead a new crusade of innovation, production, branding and global competitiveness.

Art-Life conference also sought to identify the challenges facing the sector in light of COVID-19 so as to look at what can be done to bring the sector back to recovery.

Vice Chancellor’s message was delivered by Prof. Jack Odhiambo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts. He expressed the University of Nairobi’s commitment to strengthening the cultural ideals of the Kenyan people.

“The Art-Life “Keep-It-Lit” Conference is just one among the many numerous but important programmes that the University of Nairobi has committed itself to support in order to help grow and strengthen our city’s cultural landscape. I’m glad to note that we formalized a strategic partnership with the ART-LIFE GROUP and successfully convened a Multi-Sectoral team in order to pilot the mega and first-of-its- kind 5-day Nairobi Art-Life International Festival here at the university grounds later in the year 2022.”

KNATCOM’s Deputy Director in charge of Culture, Ms. Emily Njeru, highlighted the need for the creative environment to keep up in the digital age and not be left behind.

“How are we adopting to the change to ensure we remain competitive? One of the best practises countries are adopting is on protecting and promoting the creative sector in the digital era.”

Ms. Njeru was standing in for the Chief Executive Officer, KNATCOM, Ms. Evangeline Njoka. She stressed the importance of the Kenyan creative sector to resort to the digital space so as to connect with more people and get their work out there.

The Group Founder, Art-Life Group, Mr. Isaac Oprong passionately expressed sentiments with regards to improving the efficacy of the creative industry in order to promote cultural tourism and thus grow the industry. He gave examples of International cultural festivals like Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day and Brazil’s Carnival and how these festivals put their countries’ cultures on the world stage while enhancing socio-economic development. Mr. Oprong hoped that the Art ‘Life conference would Kenya to achieve the same by dedicating programs, services and resources to engage communities through art, culture and heritage. These programmes should be led by professionals in the performing, visual, digital, culinary, media, crafts, fashion, theatre and literary arts field.

While Faculty of Business and Management Science’s Prof. Bitange Ndemo, noted that:

“Everybody must understand digital literacy; we should not be retiring, we should be preparing content for our young ones. There are a lot of opportunities in the digital space. Because of digitization an artist can take advantage of Google to get their art out. You are going to see people earning from their creativity.”

Prof. Tom Olali from the Department of Kiswahili, Faculty Arts, reiterated Ms. Njeru sentiments with regards to the shift in approaches in the entertainment industry. He noted that creatives need to attend more online exhibitions so they can get more exposure.

Prof. Olali is an actor in his own right and he is known for fighting for the welfare of actors.   

On his part the Director Corporate Affairs, University of Nairobi, Mr. John Orindi challenged the stakeholder’s present to deliberate on ideas for a cultural extravaganza that would help promote cultural tourism in Kenya.

Mr. Orindi hoped that the day’s deliberations would help in creating an ecosystem that would help creatives grow and recover from the effects of COVID-19.

A recognized Kenyan author known as Tony Mochama urged young artist to produce well researched content that would enable them to compete with their peers in Hollywood and other established industries.

Art ‘Life Conference 2021 will go a long way in helping Kenyan creatives to: adequately brand and market themselves, penetrate the digital market and to grow in their field with the backing of government and industry .