By Jeoffrey Mukubi
NAMIBIA will host the first-ever Arts Summit of Southern Africa (ASSA), the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) has announced. The summit is expected to take place in Windhoek, from 21 August 2018 until 23 August 2018 under the theme Human Creativity is a vital Economic, Social & Cultural Resource. According NACN the gathering seeks to strengthen the creative economy, across SADC and increase awareness of the sector as a vital regional industry. NACN Chairperson, Patrick Sam stressed that the creative sector is largely ignored by policymakers and this impacts on investment. He added that this ultimately affects the productivity and effectiveness of other industries, as the creative sector offers numerous opportunities for cross-sectorial partnerships and initiatives, such as with tourism and trade. “The Summit will promote the need for inclusion of the creative industries in national and regional development strategies, whilst ensuring that cross-sectorial opportunities are nurtured and explored,” Sam said. Approximately, 150 delegates from across SADC are expected at the summit and will be drawn from government institutions, national arts councils, cultural agencies, policy makers, professional associations and practitioners. Educators from the creative industry and other sectors that have cross cutting interests that can positively impact the creative industry are set to join the summit. “The creative industry is vital to the sustainable development of Namibia and other SADC countries, yet there is a perceived lack of understanding and doubts about the opportunities and benefits of investing in this sector and the growth it can bring to the region,” he added. Sam further noted that one of the fundamental issues is a lack of evidence- based strategies and initiatives in the region, and for the region, despite there being a wealth of experience and knowledge available. The summit plans on addressing these shortcomings by assembling experts from around the world to deliberate on best practices, strategies and recommend the way forward in shaping the right environment for the creative economy to flourish in Southern Africa. Furthermore, Sam noted other industries such as manufacturing and logistics are already integrated at a regional level and is of the opinion that ensuring that regional protocol is also established in the creative industry will support the overall sustainable development of SADC, as well as benefit its individual nations. He continued that: “Evidence is a major solution to developing this protocol and the Summit will bring together experts with broad knowledge and case studies on the positive impacts that the creative economy can have on the overall economy. “Establishing facts about the potential GDP benefits of the creative economy and the investment required will enable regional stakeholders to make an evidence-based case for a regional focus on the creative industries.” According to the organiser, the summit is about instilling an understanding that the creative economy is vital to the development of Namibia and the rest of the SADC countries. “Without inclusion of the creative economy as a key pillar, we will not be able to achieve equality and address unemployment and poverty.” Topics will range from a healthy ecology of creative individuals, the need for evidence-based policy making for the creative industry to creating an enabling environment for investment in the creative economy and the role of cultural leadership in strengthening the creative economy. Other topics will touch on the importance of the creative economy for national development and regional integration, as well as identifying new opportunities for the creative economies in technology, marketing, partnerships and multi-sectoral approaches.
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