Street art festival Tibeb be Adebabay will transform Meskel Square in Addis Ababa into a public contemporary art space.
Ethiopia’s definition in cultural policy is limited to the areas of heritage, tourism and cultural industries, resembling a lack of understanding and appreciation for contemporary artists, their work and their role in society. Public space can rarely be used by artists or civil society actors for encounters between people.
Tibeb be Adebabay (Amharic for Art in Public Space) is a participatory street festival staged in Meskel Square, the main public square in Addis Ababa. An open call invited artists from Ethiopia and other countries in Africa and Europe to participate in a workshop to develop new, collaborative ideas for public events across the capital. Born out of the conviction that culture is not a luxury but a necessity, Tibeb be Adebabay offers new experiences for Addis Ababa residents in the public domain. Through a publicity campaign entitled ‘Our Future Together’, the festival is raising awareness of the role the arts play in society.
The project's contextualized needs for more open, inclusive and contemporary art interaction in public spaces were clearly identified – as well as the problems it aims to address – in the proposal and the selection committee unanimously agreed on the importance of the project. Facilitating artists as the agent of change engaging the public space to promote the role of arts and the use of public spaces for society was recognised to be supported by any cultural means. The core strategy relies heavily on the participating artists to come up with ideas, innovations, and solutions for multilayered cultural challenges that the project has identified. The project furthermore proposes an elaborate management model, where all stakeholders – EUNIC members, EU Delegation, local partners – have a distinct and complementary role to play.