While the profound disruption to cultural life and livelihoods caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is evident across the world, the pandemicalso reveiled and magnified the cultural industries’ pre-existing volatility. The EUNIC Cluster Kenyasupported the local arts and culture scenes in these times and showed solidarity with the Kenyan Government in its efforts to create long term solutions for the supply and demand for Arts and cultural goods and services. An open call grant for individuals and organisations supported activities that enhanced their recovery from COVID 19 and contributed to the continous growth of the sector.
An open call for proposals was launched under the Wasanii Waomoke Fund through the EUNIC Kenya website in March 2021. The call was publicized widely through the network of local partners. 370 entries were received, and a preliminary selection was carried out in accordance with the selection criteria by representatives of the Embassy of Austria, Goethe-Institut and Embassy of Switzerland.
7 out of the 10 selected projects were created in a digital format, one was a dance festival, two were on-site art installations. The output of these projects can be accessed here.
The Wasanii Waomoke project brought together creatives from diverse fields: film, heritage, puppetry, street art, dance, poetry, spoken word and environmental art. The project has contributed to showcasing works of art that respond to social issues and leverage on digital technology, built new audiences by virtue of existing on digital platforms and by being implemented at community level, and provided opportunities for artists whose work and cultural output was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the 10 projects, The Earth’s Children puppet show was selected for the 2021 KidzCinema International Festival in India, received a Jury Special Mention and was shown at various schools in India together with other nominated films from around the world. The Wasanii Waomoke project has helped validate the work of the selected creatives, with EUNIC Global and EUNIC Kenya support ensuring credibility and thus enhancing their opportunities for future support and partnerships from other institutions and stakeholders.
Challenges and Learnings
Overall, the project implementation went smoothly. Theannouncement of the successful candidates in April 2021 was planned to be done in-person, but prevailing the Government of Kenya directives in assembling people due to growing number of Covid cases meant that the announcements had to be made virtually.
The various projects enabled the project implementors to work with teams of creatives skilled in different disciplines enabling knowledge sharing, learning, and networking.
Only one of the applicants, Ivy Nyayieka, has requested to complete her project at a later point in time as she experienced some unforeseen delays.
There was a huge silence in the creative space due to the pandemic and many artistic activities were halted. This was not good for the artists regarding finances. Any available opportunity would come as a great relief. One of these opportunities was the call by EUNIC Kenya to apply for a grant to uplift the artistes’ financial situation. The news got even even better when Earth’s Children was announced as one of the winners for the grant. This was great news to the entire team. Earth’s children a project that has been so close to our hearts had finally come to life and received a Jury Special Mention at Kidz Cinema 2021, India.Michael Mutahi, Earth’s Children puppet show