Creating a cultural industry around balafons in Côte d’Ivoire

Groupe Ba Banga Nyeck (NGO), Côte d’Ivoire
IFCD funding: USD 50,885 | Timeline: April 2013 - February 2014

© Ba Banga Nyeck

About the Project

 Creating a cultural industry around balafons in Côte d’Ivoire
The project aims to promote the creation of a balafon cultural industry in Côte d’Ivoire through the strengthening of professional skills linked to this popular musical instrument. By offering training programmes on the design, fabrication, performance and commercialization of “traditional” xylophones and “modern” diatonic and chromatic balafons, the project maximizes the rich potential of this cultural industry and stimulates knowledge-sharing and communication among a wide range of stakeholders. While playing balafons is generally practiced by men, the project encourages the active involvement of women in the balafon cultural industry.

Project leader: Groupe Ba Banga Nyeck
Groupe Ba Banga Nyeck, a prestigious Ivorian non-governmental organization (NGO), is committed to the promotion and professionalization of balafon practices and works in close partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie of Côte d’Ivoire. The NGO was recognized in 2008 by the African Intellectual Property Organization and has received international awards, such as the “World Master of Arts and Culture” in South Korea in 2010 and the grand prix of the “Balafon Triangle” in Mali in 2005.

Key targets

  • Training material on the use of balafons is published and used to train artists.
  • Professional skills in making and playing balafons of 25 artists (men and women) are reinforced.
  • A balafon exhibition and a performance to raise visibility of the project outcomes are organized.

Main activities

  • Setting-up a writing workshop with the aim of producing and publishing a book and creating a website to present balafons and their training methods. This will allow for wider communication, networking and commercialization opportunities for the balafon industry.
  • Carrying out a series of comprehensive workshops on the different stages of balafon-making and on music theory and performance using “traditional” xylophones and “modern” diatonic and chromatic balafons for 25 participants, half of whom would be women.
  • Raising awareness of the rich potential of the balafon cultural industry through the organization of an exhibition of the balafons produced during the workshop, holding musical performances, and spreading information on the project among women’s associative networks, music schools, and arts and culture institutions in Côte d’Ivoire.

How does this project contribute to the implementation of the 2005 Convention?

  • Reinforces an existing cultural industry: it enables a real cultural industry to take shape, affecting the design of instruments, the production and dissemination of musical works, and promotion through the publication of methods and detailed descriptive materials.
  • Recognizes the specific nature of cultural activities, goods and services as bearers of identity, value and meaning and strengthens the capacities of young people, and promotes gender equality. The project creates the possibility of transmitting shared knowledge and fostering communication between men and women, encouraging women to take an active role in practices hitherto reserved for men.

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