ARUSHA, Tanzania, June 12, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Rwanda will this year host the first edition of the EAC Arts and Culture Festival. The event is slated to take place from 27 October to 4 November 2012.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Jesca Eriyo in a communication announced that Rwanda had been selected by the evaluation committee after “having submitted the most outstanding proposal”.
Rwanda’s bid to host the historic event eclipsed that presented by Uganda, which is the other EAC Partner State that had expressed interest in hosting the Festival.
The EAC Arts and Culture Festival comes to life following a decision by the 23rd Council of Ministers meeting held in Arusha in September 2011 to have the region host regular arts and culture festivals.
The festivals, to be hosted by the Partner States on a rotational basis, aim to foster an East African cultural identity that depicts the cultural life of East Africans, illustrate their cultural unity in diversity and to create an enabling environment for the promotion and development of arts and creative industries as a viable tool for sustainable socio-economic development.
The festivals will in the long run contribute greatly towards the promotion of cultural tourism as well as conservation, safeguarding and development of cultural heritage and the overall marketing of regional cultural groups, workers and creators with their diverse products at regional and international levels.
“The theme of this year’s festival will be ‘Deepening Integration through Culture and Creative Industries’, with the main objective of bringing artistes and East Africans together to dialogue, learn, exchange, network, and celebrate the region’s rich and diverse cultural heritage,” Hon. Eriyo said.
She added that the Festival will provide a platform for East Africans to celebrate their similarities and diversities, while deepening and widening the arts and culture market and promoting better understanding of the benefits of integration in the Community and beyond.
Over the nine-day duration of the inaugural event, a variety of activities are planned, including cultural villages, art exhibitions, fashion shows, workshops and symposiums as well as live performances, among others. These will be conducted at more than five different venues.
The first edition of the Festival has targeted to attract a minimum of 3,000 visitors, staying an average of 10 days with an average expenditure of USD 70 per day. This would generate visitor expenditure of USD 2.1 million.
In addition, the Festival is expected to generate short term and indirect employment especially for the young people aged 20-35 years and provide an additional fillip to ancillary sectors like the media and hospitality sectors.
Hon. Eriyo thus urged all Partner States to lend their support to the event and actively participate in the Festival, and further called on the private sector, civil society organizations and indeed the whole citizenry of the Community to take advantage of the festival to display their talents and “learn from our diverse, rich and interesting culture as it will be displayed; and trade among themselves”.
The Deputy Secretary General also noted the Festival will showcase employment opportunities and experiences that East Africans can harness.
The biennial EAC Arts and Culture festivals are mooted to be held in conjunction with host Partner State Governments, private sector and civil society and are expected to attract a cross section of East Africans and visitors to the region alike.
Notes to Editors
– The Partner States commit in Article 119 of the EAC Treaty to promote close co-operation amongst themselves in culture and sports, with respect to the promotion and enhancement of diverse sports activities and; the promotion of cultural activities, including the fine arts, literature, music, the performing arts and other artistic creations, among others.
– There are clear business benefits in developing cultural events which attract tourists. For example, the Rio Carnival brings in an estimated $500 million into Brazil’s economy each year.
– In the case of the EAC, events such as Sauti za Busara held in Zanzibar every year attract over 200 performers and thousands of visitors, providing, in the process, a boon to the tourism and travel sectors, to name but only two.
– It is anticipated that as a result of the EAC Arts and Culture Festival, there will be important sectoral benefits to the travel industry (i.e. increased arrivals and airlifts), hotel industry (i.e. higher occupancy rates), entertainment sectors (e.g. new audiences) and development of infrastructure.
– The Festival is also envisaged to create an expanded market for the arts, highlight the importance of arts and culture in integration and enhance creativity in the region, among other impacts.
– The anticipated media coverage of the Festival will enhance the citizenry’s awareness of the regional integration processes, while promoting virtual integration of the East African people and enhancing the image of the EAC as a tourist destination.
– EAC citizens physically attending the event will have an opportunity for live interaction, allowing for mingling of ideas, sharing of experiences and ultimately nurturing of socio-cultural connections.
– On account of staging the Festival the host country is expected to gain new tourism demands and consequently investment in travel and tourism sectors as the long term benefits, but not to be discounted are the immediate/short term benefits such as foreign exchange and tax earnings.