ResiliArt|Comoros debate identifies measures to support artists and performers during COVID-19


The Centre for Artistic and Cultural Creation in Comoros-Mavuna (Centre de création artistique et culturel des Comores-Mavuna, CCAC-Mavuna) in collaboration with the Directorate General of Arts and Culture in Comoros and the UNESCO Regional Office for East Africa organized a ResiliArt|Comoros virtual debate on 16 June 2020 in order to raise awareness on the impact of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of cultural professionals, and to contribute to decision-making processes when developing policies and measures to empower artists and performers in Comoros.

ResiliArt is a global movement launched by UNESCO in April 2020 that consists of a series of virtual debates with key industry professionals and artists – both renowned and unknown – that raises awareness of the far-reaching impact of the current confinement measures on the culture sector. It aims to support Member States in the development of policies and financial mechanisms that can help creative individuals and communities overcome the current crisis.

Over 300 key stakeholders in the cultural and creative industries participated in the online ResiliArt|Comoros debate through Microsoft Teams and Facebook livestream, including the Minister of Culture, H.E. Mr. Nourdine Ben Ahmed, Minister of Youth, Employment, Labour, Training,  Professional Integration, Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Director General of Arts and Culture, Ms. Wahidat Hassani who provided opening and closing remarks respectively.

The debate was opened with a video performance on confinement during COVID-19 by the Comorian actrice Ms. Sitti Thourayat Daoud. Mr. Soumette Ahmed, Director of the CCAC-Mavuna presented the results of a national survey undertaken prior to the debate among cultural practitioners in Comoros, which demonstrated the impact of the pandemic on the culture sector. The results showed that 60 percent of participants’ performances had been cancelled and 21 percent had halted all activities. 70 percent of respondents indicated an urgent need for moral and financial support. 42 percent of those surveyed require financial support to continue their creative activities and 28 percent request political support. Of the five most urgent measures needed to promote and develop the culture sector in Comoros, 32 percent of respondents noted the need for legislation on the Status of the Artist, 22 percent noted the need for financial support, 17 percent legislative and political support, 16 percent indicated a need for cultural centres and 10 percent noted the need to increase promotion of national arts and culture. Over 40 percent of respondents signaled the need for structural reforms of the culture sector in Comoros.

Following the results of the survey, an overview of the current context of the Culture sector in Comoros was presented by Ms. Wahidat Hassani, Director General of Arts and Culture, and by Mr. Farid Rachad, Regional Director for Culture and Association affairs in Anjouan.

The ResiliArt|Comoros debate targeted specific creative industry issues within the framework of COVID-19, exploring the ways in which the creative sector is impacted - economically, socially, emotionally - and anticipating a better future. These impacts on the creative economy were discussed under two themes: The constraints artists face as a result of current containment measures, and the measures that could be put in place by, among others, governments, international organizations and the private sector—as well as artists themselves-- to support artists during and after this crisis. The constraints were addressed by six panelists including:  Mr. Salim Mze Hamadi Moissi, Artistic Director and choreographer of the company Tcheza; Mr. Abdou Kamal Dine, Slam artist, visual artist, and designer; Mr. Cheikh MC, Author, composer, performer and rapper; Mr. Soumette Ahmed

Actor and Director of CCAC-Mavuna; Mr. Hakim Idriss, Director of Swana Studio and an Urban Calligrapher, and Ms. Malha Mohamed, Author, composer and performer. The measures were proposed by six other panelists including: Ms. Sitti Thourayat, Actress; Mr. Lee-Nossent, Author, composer and performer; Ms. Intissam Dahilou, Author, slammer and actress; Mr. Eliasse Joma, Author, composer, performer and guitarist; Mr. Tourqui Aboubacar, Agency Director and Producer,Videographer Interface Label Manager; and Mr. Youssouf Abdoul-Madjid, Production Manager Cie Tche-Za. The debate was moderated by Ms. Djabhana Said-Ibrahim, former coordinator of UNESCO culture projects in Comoros.

A discussion session was organized after the panelists’ presentations, which provided an opportunity for participants to share recommendations for appropriate policies and measures to address existing gaps and needs, and help artists recover from this difficult period.

In his closing remarks, the Minister of Culture welcomed the suggestions shared by the panelists and asked the CCAC-Mavuna to share the consolidated recommendations and outcomes of the debate with his Ministry in order to strengthen collaboration between the Ministry and the artistic community in addressing the needs identified to ensure the resilience of the culture sector in Comoros.

Video recording of the debate (in French)