Selam launches a new initiative for artistic freedom in eight African countries

Selam is now launching the Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF), a new network building initiative funded by the Swedish Arts Council.

Selam’s founder and CEO Teshome Wondimu shares the vision for PANAF:

“In most African countries, there is a great need to strengthen cultural actors, and reinforcing artistic freedom is an integral part of that. We want to show solidarity with individual actors and break the isolation that many experience.”

“Through the networks that will be created, cultural actors will get to support each other on issues such as legal support, opinion formation on specific issues and around processes related to dialogues with decision-makers.”

PANAF will be developed in collaboration with partners in Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, with plans to involve several other countries in the future.

The focus will primarily be on the music and film sector, with the intent to gradually involve artists, performers, journalists, writers, cultural workers and activists, as well as officials. The aim is to establish a Pan-African network of creatives to strengthen collaborations at national, regional and continental levels, as well as to develop a digital platform for knowledge exchange and new initiatives.

The Swedish Arts Council director-general Kajsa Ravin says: “Contemporary art is often to be found at the heart of public debate. The fact that our agency, which has a thorough knowledge of culture, can now distribute this funding represents a boost for international efforts to promote artistic freedom.”

Selam has worked for over 20 years in cultural development and development aid and has offices in Stockholm, Addis, Kampala and an Africa regional office in Nairobi.
In addition to their work on the African continent, Selam has utilized their vast experience and global network to develop and execute several cultural projects in Latin America and Asia.

“We want to create tools and better conditions for the creatives as well as to form hubs of support and alliances, and strengthening the sector in general,” Wondimu says. “Selam and our partners are thrilled and grateful for the good dialogue, trust and support we continue to receive from the Swedish Arts Council. Through this new project, we take another step forward, building on an already established successful working relationship with our partners.”

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