Over my four months as Project Coordinator for the In Place of War Creative and Social Entrepreneurship Programme(CASE), I co-curated three networking events which brought together creative practitioners to share and network around the themes of ‘Making the Festival’, ‘The State of Dance in Uganda’ and ‘Fashion Nexus’. These events were run in collaboration with KQ, DOADOA and The British Council in Kampala Uganda. Below are some of the pictures, quotes and observations;
Making the Festival
‘With all these festivals mushrooming and already established festivals; we wanted to get a vivid understanding of what it takes to run a festival in Africa (Uganda) and a how-to guide to making a successful festival. We also wanted to explore the realities of running a festival from the resourcing, selection of the venue, creating an identity and finding your unique selling point and how festivals are publicized. To address concerns of artistes that have incessantly complained about being paid peanuts or ripped off altogether said Daina Leigh the Project Coordinator In Place Of War.’ KQ article
I found that this event to be great experience, bringing lively and honest observations from our panelists and audience. The healthy tension and respect between the two festival giants Bayimba and Nyege Nyege was brilliant to watch, and I grew a great respect for both festival directors in what they had pushed through to gain the success they are currently seeing. I have particular respect for Faisal who shared his perseverance through very low turn-outs to his earliest years of his festival, in addition to the continued fight to gain resources in a country which he describes to distrust its own people, favouring and laying trust in projects led by people of white skin and western origin.
Making the Festival, above anything else, was about connecting the young people of the CASE programme with professionals in the industry, giving them the opportunity to network and experience these kinds of environments. One of the participants shared with me that her experiences with IPOW and the CASE programme are the best she has ever had so far in her life, which was a great thing to hear. My own personal growth came from seeing how much could be achieved through being brave, putting yourself out there, and connecting with people on a level of sharing their own experiences to impact the wider community. I was very impressed and surprised that all of the panelists were happy to share their stories for free, to contribute to this creative ecosystem in which they all rely.
The State of Dance in Uganda
The State of Dance in Uganda panelists explored the current state of Dance in Uganda highlighting the existing projects, success stories, challenges faced by Dance practitioners, dance companies, projects and institutions that are directly or indirectly involved with Dance. Most importantly, it aimed at finding appropriate solutions to current challenges. The panel was followed by a showcase between experimental dance crew Spotlite Crew, who’s leader is a graduate of the CASE programme, in addition to indigenous drumming group Nilotika Cultural Ensemble. The session ended with a speed networking session between panelists and the audience.
My own involvement in this DOADOA partnership was in curating the showcase for the event, which sparked an exciting freestyle cypher with Spot Lite crew and the dancers in the audience, alongside brilliant percussion from Nilotika Drumming Ensemble. The panel and networking sessions overall were a positive activity for that community – and have since sparked further meetings between dance practitioners and leading arts professionals, in order to overcome some of the challenges, such as lack of recognition and financial support for dancers particularly in the industry.
Fazil, from Spotlite Crew, and graduate of the CASE programme had this to say about the event and programme;
‘Todays dialogue was about state of dance in Uganda … the discussion was very good, vital and relevant. I think the discussion was important because as artists, as dancers, its very vital that we come together and try and interact about the issues in our city, sharing different ideas with different people, different opinions as sometimes you only think about your own opinion without listening to others. About the CASE programme, it was very vital and important because i got to learn about a lot of details in things for instance the project planning; it was something that I had known already about but I got a full insight particularly for running events, writing proposals – using my own ideas as a creative entrepreneur. I think the CASE programme is very vital for everyone, i recommend it for any artist that wants to progress financially, economically and see his dream progress’ Onyu Fazil
Fashion Nexus was a private networking event bringing together the Ugandan fashion community – designers, retailers, bloggers, fashionista’s, photographers, stylists, media, and models – to learn, share, challenge and network in a celebratory event. The night consisted of short presentations/showcases from our 4 experts, a panel discussion and networking and cocktails to follow. Fashion Nexus was a chance for the whole Ugandan fashion community to appreciate, learn and connect with each other in an engaging celebratory event.
Our panel of experts were Ras Kasozi of SEED Show, Samson Baranga of Fashion256, Ahumuza Brian of Abryanz Style & Fashion Awards and Michelle Omamteker of Malengo Foundation moderated by Wabwire W’a of KQ . Atim Catu providing music throughout the night.
Model and friend Katushabe Irene had the following comments regarding the event;
‘On 10th May 2018, the Fashion Nexus show night was organised by In Place of War in collaboration with the British Council Uganda. It took place at Resilient Africa Network in Kololo, with various fashion designers who shared very supportive, authentic and motivational ideas on how to promote and develop the fashion industry in Uganda.
Some of these instrumental designers included Ahumuza Brian founder of Abryans Styles and Fashion Awards (ASFAS) Michelle Omamteketer of the Malengo Foundation, Samson Baranga, Ras Kasozi and among others . Adorably young talented artists were apart of the show that clearly reflected how fashion meets Music. This fashion show hosted a majority of people from the different walks of life (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.). It was based on the aim of promoting art and craft as a core beauty of the African culture especially in Uganda. This acted as a stepping stone for the uprising fashion designers, and in my interaction with one of the young star designers Nyola who stays in Kamwokya, and he recycles trash such as tyres and wasted polythene bags, blends them creatively together to come up with artistic outfits. He continued to to say that art should be done with the motive of giving back to the community .
The nexus fashion show night was outstandingly worth attending because their was exceedingly a lot to be learnt besides sumptuous delicacies served.’
More comments from the night came from the In Place of War CASE participants;
‘For someone like me, who wants to set up a creative and social enterprise, the discussions were highly motivating, especially when the panelists were sharing the different ways how they sustain their businesses. As a start-up i strongly believe that sustainability is key’ Flavia Aber
‘Everything was perfect. The speeches were on point. Ras Kasozi from the SEED show was my favorite. His presentation was so modern and inspirational.’ Peter Arintwe
‘What I can’t forget from the event is the way all these panelists who were hosted engage in the community, from them i got to know that most of them sustain there businesses through partnership and collaboration, I also enjoyed peoples reaction to Kasozi commenting about burning second hand clothing in Uganda.’ Ssonko Brian
I particularly loved the comments from designer, SEED show co-founder and community activist Ras Kasozi. He felt very strongly that second-hand clothing imports should be banned, even calling for the burning of Owino Market, to make way for new solutions and innovations from the strong pool of talent and entrepreneurs in Uganda. Brian Ahumuza of Abyanz Style and Fashion Awards, disagreed with this statement, pointing out the lack of infrastructure and capacity for Uganda to produce clothing for a whole country.
The excitement and commentary around the event on social media was high, with a lot of interest from local news channels and bloggers. It demonstrated the great interest for this industry in Uganda, and a community excited to learn from some of the best voices and talent.
I am so honoured and proud to have co-curated these events for the In Place of War Creative and Social Entrepreneurship Programme. Meeting and learning from the most successful creative practitioners in Uganda is a great privilege, and I hope these events created some lasting impact in the industry and in the professional lives of all those that attended and were involved.