The government’s expenditure earmarked for the arts and creative industries sector during the last four years was in focus at a two-day interactive symposium in Nairobi during early March.

Aptly titled ‘Finance for the Creative Sector’, the forum aimed to candidly interrogate and review significant strides if any, which have been made on the basis of previous discussions.

It is important to point out these sessions took place barely months the wake of the Creative Economy Dialogues last year as on official side event during the UNCTAD14.

The symposium addressed two major themes: reflections and dialogue on new models of finance for creative industries and shifting finance policy in public, philanthropic and private arenas.

Invitations to participate were extended to experts, professionals and creatives drawn from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa and African-American Diaspora.

The specialist panelist’s input sought to explore the progress made on cultural data collection and the extent of cultural policy development (at both national and county levels).

Among the forum’s highlights were multiple interactive sessions, tackling core cultural and creative industries [CCI] elements with focus hinged on links between the private capital and corporate partnerships.

Some of the fastest growing segments in Africa’s emergent creative sectors identified range from digital animation, film & television, heritage, music to fashion, design, craft and publishing.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD] 2008 Creative Industries report underscored Africa’s share of the global creative economy ranked at less than 1%.

Participants were in consensus this percentage is a glaring indicator of the sector’s underinvestment and potential for growth – juxtaposed against African governments evident indifference.

A subsequent Creative Industries report unveiled in 2010 emphasized the CCI sector holds significant prospects to spur growth in GDPs especially for developing countries seeking to diversify their economies.

The symposium’s participants and panelists engaged in dialogue, delving deeper into the pressing questions of seeking investment options beyond government budgets.

One of the burning topics revolved around the dilemma of grants – a popular source of funding increasingly sought after by numerous start-up projects within the creative sector.

A session dedicated to address this contentious subject under banner ‘After Grants: What Next?’ convened key leaders sourced from non-grant development, innovation finance and philanthropy agencies.

Under review was the changing role of development financing as well as the increased interest within the creative industries from the private sector.

In what turned into an incisive exchange, panelists made attempts to break down the challenges abound in the transition from a predominantly donor-supported creative sector to the “aid to trade” framework.

Of significant relevance is growing need to nurture and expand existing opportunities, which can provide fresh conduits for new partnership models.

Once such avenues are identified, it was emphasized, these would provide insights to and explore prospects for the establishment of a sustainable domestic philanthropic environment.

Venture capital and funding experts likewise shared handy tips with creatives who happen to front emerging start ups with guidelines on requirements regarding the do’s and don’ts in pursuit of forging partnerships with potential investors.

The session on private capital and corporate partnerships addressed options within the local banking and finance institutions likely to mobilize and spur more private capital investment avenues.

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