Bayimba turning 10yrs, with a bit of pressure on determining what next!
by Faisal KIWEWA
This 2017, Bayimba is making 10 years of working and investing in the arts and culture in Uganda. This is really a great moment for all of us at the organisation and a bit of pressure on determining what more we have to achieve.
Whilst implementing our core programme and activities, this 10th anniversary is surely meant to help us reflect on our past efforts, evaluate our capacities, and put in place new mid-term strategic directions for the coming years. The work done since 2008 is very clear: nine successful editions of the three-day Bayimba International Festivals, and 15 one-day festivals were organised in various locations across Uganda between 2010 and 2015 for the purpose of increasing regional outreach. Bayimba also established DOADOA | East African Performing Arts Market, in 2012, as a regional platform for networking and learning among sector stakeholders. In 2014 we introduced a special theatre festival, Kampala International Theatre Festival (KITF), while in 2016, Bayimba took a lead in reviving Uganda’s oldest independent film festival, Amakula Film Festival, and sought a partnership with Theatre Factory to revitalize Uganda’s premier dance festival, Dance Week Uganda.
Within the framework of our comprehensive arts education programme, over 160 trainings have been organised in various arts disciplines, with over 3,500 artists and other stakeholders participating and benefiting in terms of skill development as well as artistic exchanges and collaborations. Bayimba has also been at the forefront when of advocating for arts and culture by organizing debates and discussions, and in building relevant national and regional networks, and creating networking platforms. All along, Bayimba also explicitly focused on building its organisation and team by enhancing its organisational structures, processes, and operations, and managed to increase and diversify its financial resources for its varied programmes.
There is still work to be done and challenges to address. One of the most significant is the need to develop and establish sustainable arts infrastructures in the form of accessible art spaces for training, production, performance, and exhibition. As one of the commitments made since our founding, we sought to bring about change in the status quo – envisioning a vibrant sector that is creative, professional, viable and one contributes to social and economic development – Bayimba’s next step is to establish this kind of space.
After working and investing for ten years, we now observe a gradual development in the arts sector that is slowly making its way to becoming an industry. We commit ourselves to continuing our interventions that have proven successful at addressing multiple disturbances, and have built greater resilience within the creative cultural sector. We also commit to ensuring grassroots involvement and working in partnerships through our established strong network. We will, for sure, make East Africa a significant hub for the arts on the continent.
As we work towards the bigger vision, we hope to strengthen our increased collaborations, partnerships, support, audiences, initiatives, and more, to reach beyond our borders. We hope that history doesn’t make fools of us – that we are not seen as part of a century that advocates for the utilitarian use of arts and artists: art for the sake of swelling audience numbers, mere economic development, tourist statistics, and bragging rights. We make sure we serve artists, the arts, and the sector in their own right. And as we serve them, to ensure continuing practice of creativity at the edge, we serve not only audiences but also the community, society and the world at large.
Faisal Kiwewa (born 1983) is the founding director of Bayimba Cultural Foundation; the artistic director of Bayimba International Festival; programmes director of DOADOA – the East African Performing Arts Market, co-director of the Kampala International Theater Festival, Dance Week Uganda and director of the Amakula International Film Festival in Uganda. Faisal Kiwewa is also the country representative for Visa for Music in Uganda