Strengthening the Cultural Industries in Malawi: a preparatory assistance request

Malawi National Commission for UNESCO (State Party), Malawi
IFCD funding: USD 10,000 | Timeline: February 2012 to February 2013

© Steve Evans

About the project

Elaborate, through a workshop and stakeholder consultations, an IFCD project proposal on strengthening Malawi’s cultural industries.

About the organization
The main aim of Malawi’s National Commission is to contribute to economic and social development and poverty reduction by raising awareness among citizens, government, NGOs, civil society and communities about UNESCO’s programs. The National Commission is tasked with reinforcing the potential for growth of the country’s creative sector through capacity-building workshops focused on skill development. In addition, it is involved in fund-raising activities to promote Malawi’s cultural productions and it organizes national and regional conferences to better understand how to overcome challenges and seize opportunities in the culture sector.

Local Context
Lack of cultural policies in Malawi means its cultural industries are particularly fragile. The current national cultural policy is still a draft, but it is nearly ten years old and already in need of a review before it can even be adopted. The country’s annual economic growth has averaged about 7% over the past 6 years, household incomes are rising, new institutions are emerging and some segments of the country’s economy are booming. All of these developments are increasing the demand for cultural products. Yet, there has been no corresponding growth in the cultural sector: cultural products and events are few, and development plans in this area are limited.

Main objectives
The NatCom’s main objective is to develop an IFCD project proposal that best targets cultural industries growth in Malawi. Thus, the objective of this preparatory assistance request is to determine which methods will be used for growth and what activities need to be implemented to spur this growth.

Main activities
First, this project called for the identification of international UNESCO experts/consultants to: moderate a conference taking place in Lilongwe City, develop draft proposals and finalize Malawi’s IFCD application. This conference not only generated debate about Malawi's cultural industries, it also developed a project proposal that would enable the country to update its cultural policy and call for specific measures aimed at strengthening the cultural industries. This entailed holding consultations with local cultural industry experts in areas of interest.

Local experts prepared sector specific proposals, to be submitted to the coordinator of the National Commission. These proposals focus on different sectors of Malawi’s cultural industries, highlighting potential for development and giving concrete suggestions about what needs to be done in order for projects to materialize. Identified sectors include: the book chain, digital filmmaking, digital music production, events such as festivals and carnivals, performing arts, and last but not least, cultural entrepreneurship.

The National Commission was responsible for the logistics of the conference and supervised the elaboration of reports. Following the conference, the project coordinator works with the Director of Culture’s team to elaborate a project proposal document based on the presentations given by local experts.

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