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<firstname.lastname@example.org> The following item may be of interest (it was forwarded to me by a member of the network of an NGO called Creative Exchange, hence the references to the latter below). Note that the "consultation window" mentioned in the text has been extended to Dec. 3. Don Osborn Bisharat.net *** TOPIC: DFID Consultation on Culture in Africa - 22 November 2004 The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) has launched an online consultation exercise on its current thinking on development strategies for Africa, including strategies for culture. Creative Exchange strongly urges partners and contacts to respond to the consultation exercise before Friday 26 November when the consultation window closes. There has been a very limited response on the role of culture in African development. If culture attracts limited comment and attention, it will perpetuate the current problem where culture is an invisible issue in development policy as a whole. For this reason, it is important that as many voices as possible in the Culture and Development community - especially in Africa - are heard at this time. The Overseas Development Institute has been commissioned to run a series of web-based e-forums on different topics, including Human development, Culture and Participation. To make your contribution follow the next four steps: 1. Go to the following web page: http://www.odi.org.uk/africaconsultation/index.html 2. Click on the orange button marked "Go to the live forum pages". 3. Click on the Human development, Culture and Participation folder. 4. Click on the message thread for culture and arts. To post a message , fill in the "Add a Message" box at the bottom of the page. PLEASE NOTE: you will have to register as a user before you can contribute to the discussion. Click the Register button - it takes about 60 seconds to register. Background The Commission for Africa was established in spring 2004 with leadership from UK PM Tony Blair, with its aim: "to support and generate ideas and actions for a strong and prosperous Africa." Culture has been included in one of the strands of the commission's work. A consultation document outlining progress so far was launched in November 2004. This contained the following comment on the role of culture: "Respect Africa's culture and promote participation Africa has a tradition of finding community solutions to social and economic problems. An active approach to development must work with local institutions and to promote inclusion. The recommendations here are broad in nature since the challenge is to incorporate understanding of Africa's culture throughout external support rather than through specific cultural initiatives. The Commission would like to receive recommendations for action, particularly in order to: * Encourage all donors to structure their work to fit with Africa's culture; this should include work with religious communities, who, for example, deliver around half of education in Africa. * Develop measures to encourage greater community participation, including by women and young people, in shaping donor policies. * Support AU and NEPAD work on culture. * Ensure that culture is taking into account across the Commission areas of action." Current challenges Unfortunately, there has been no clarity about what the commission means by culture, though documentation so far would suggest a wide interpretation of culture incorporating values, beliefs, ways of being as well as culture as expression/arts. The e-forum discussion has focused almost exclusively on the issue of arts and cultural industries in Africa which is a narrowing of the commission's focus. The questions in the e-forum discussion are as follows: * What is the role of African heritage? * Are African artists and cultural industries sufficiently recognised and appreciated, and should they be promoted and/or protected? * To what extent has the African Union's cultural renaissance been important for African dignity, well being and prosperity? * What is the role of the African Diaspora in promoting culture and the arts? However, we would urge contributors to also contribute comments on the role of culture in development more broadly. Even though these are outside the remit of the e-forum questions, they are in the spirit of what the Commission for Africa is proposing. Please place at the foot of your comment the following text: Contributed via the Creative Exchange network. This would help us in tracking how useful our network has been in contributing to this debate. Helen Gould Creative Exchange --