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Culture Works Connections Report: The story of 3 years in Africa/Caribbean/Pacific

Learn how Visiting Arts has been increasing markets for sustainable creative businesses in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

Through Culture Works Connections (supported by, Visiting Arts has been providing training and opportunities to the cultural sector in business skills, cultural leadership, networks and mobility in Ethiopia, Malawi, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji and Guam.

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Culture Works Connections provided training and opportunities to the cultural sector in business skills, cultural leadership and networks & mobility across Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific. A €500,000 project funded by the EU programme ACP Cultures+, Culture Works Connections supported over 400 artists and cultural professionals over a 3 year period from 2014 to 2016.

The ultimate aim of Culture Works Connections was to increase markets for the work of artists in diverse locations and contexts in the global south and to become more sustainable as businesses. Training for artists and cultural organisations first addressed their primary motivations as participants in the programme: their creative ambitions, their cultural curiosity and the drive to overcome obstacles facing their artistic development.

We know that we (in the Pacific Islands) exist but the rest of the world doesn’t. And if they do they have a very generalised idea of our reality. We don’t think that we live in paradise. We want to leave. All the time. And we can’t. My peers express such a longing to not be where they are. To move. – Ebonie Fifita, On the Spot, Tonga - WCC Ambassador speaking at Visiting Arts International Producers’ Breakfast 2016

Visiting Arts brought added value to our project partners, who included the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Trinidad & Tobago, The Africa Centre in Capetown, South Africa, and the Pacific Islands Culture and Arts Foundation in Suva, Fiji, by brokering connections to international gatekeepers and building a training and networking programme to be shared between the regions. Most participants found the training transformative: 95% of participants stated that they felt confident or very confident in looking for international work & opportunities and communicating about their work to online and offline audiences.

Now I could bring knowledge back to my community and tell them this is the way the world sees us, not the way we see it, and we have to invent terms and language to express where we are to the world. We also have an opportunity to recreate ourselves, in the sense that you don’t have to be stuck in tradition. We have to move forward and grow the business outside of Carnival. - Damian Whiskey, Midnight Robber, Trinidad and Tobago - WCC Ambassador

The four components of the project were delivered over 3 years from 2014-2016:

  • Conducting a needs analysis of the artists and organisations in Trinidad and Tobago, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Islands with online surveys and desk research
  • Further development of the online networking site World Cultures Connect (WCC) and facilitating the posting of artist and organisational profiles for international visibility
  •  Delivering Creative Skills (Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji, Ethiopia and Malawi) and Green Room (Guam) training and networking programmes to over 400 artists and cultural professionals
  • Hosting a delegation of artists from all regions at the Edinburgh Festivals and International Producers Breakfast; hosting an Exchange Workshop between Scottish artists and producers and CWC artists.

Based on the analysis, the programme was tailored to support individuals, micro and small creative businesses. Visiting Arts along with project partners created a suite of promotional and development tools and training programmes for the creative industries, which included online webinars and resources in promoting to festivals, funds for international mobility, international art transport and US visas for cultural professionals. Participants joined a network of World Cultures Connect Ambassadors who share their learning within the local sector and organise further networking events to strengthen national and international links.

 “The resources have broadened my perspective on international work and have allowed me to focus on diversifying Elle’s services while penetrating different markets. I am proud to say that Elle is franchising in October 2016 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines” – Evita Thomas, Elle Model Management, Trinidad and Tobago - Creative Skills Workshop participant

Culture Works Connections has helped participants define their ambitions and gain the skills they need to build financial sustainability as well as create meaningful connections to the world that tell the story of their artistry and their communities. 

March 24, 2017
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