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Inaugural Arts Summit of southern Africa set to strengthen the arts sector

Inaugural Arts Summit of southern Africa set to strengthen the arts sector

The first ever Arts Summit of Southern Africa (ASSA) kicked off in Windhoek on Monday evening, and brought together all the region’s best artistic talents and minds to take stock of the creative sector and identify ways and means to strengthen its economic capacity and impact.

The country’s Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba opened the proceedings with his key note address.

“As an ardent arts and culture enthusiast, I applaud the organizers of this Summit, for the call of awakening, signifying that it is night for us in Southern Africa to accord greater attention to the economic aspects of arts and culture, as we do, for example to the tourism, agricultural and mining sectors,: he said.

According to Mbumba, there is need to support the arts and culture through tangible investments.

“Not only is the arts and culture sector able to unlock the hidden talents in individuals and communities for self-actualization, but it can also serve as exports earning millions of foreign currency for Southern Africa, in the struggle against poverty, and for economic emancipation,” he said.

With the theme of ‘Human Creativity is a vital Economic, Social and Cultural Resource,’ the event displayed the artwork of various artists ranging from writers, poets, painters and sculptors.

Twelve of the 16 Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states are attending the three-day event.

Meanwhile, the summit gives African countries a chance to discuss regional integration and give priority to the creative industries in national development policies. It also aims to address the challenges facing creative industries within the region, according to the organizer, the National Arts Council of Namibia.

The permanent secretary of education, Sanet Steenkamp at the event said to promote the arts sector as a viable career option for the next generation, people must first encourage the generation to obtain the skills that will nurture their creativity and allow it to flourish.

“That begins within schools and within departments of adult education. No one must be left behind. I do not believe that there is any lack of creativity in Namibia or within the region. However, you would not expect a mathematician to flourish without effective education,” she added.

According to Steenkamp, if there is one lesson to learn from the creative mindset that is relevant to this summit, it is this: creativity never rests.

“It is always evolving, and we are always learning from it. Only by bringing professionals together who recognise and embrace the possibilities of creativity and innovation will we be able to devise strategies that work. I am proud to be here as a representative of my Ministry and Namibia to witness it,” she said.

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