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New talent search initiative to boost creative industry

Rwandan artists Mike Kayihura (playing piano) and Angel Mutoni performed in Kigali yesterday at the launch of ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi, a talent search project that aims at boosting the country’s creative industry.

This new talent search project launched yesterday by the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Sports and Culture, in partnership with Imbuto Foundation, is expected to boost the country’s nascent creative industry, officials have said.

Dubbed “ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi” and unveiled in Kigali yesterday, the project seeks to identify and support young and talented Rwandans within the creative arts industry. It will be a nationwide televised search for creative youth in fashion, music and dance, acting and drama, cinematography and photography, as well as plastic arts and literature.


The Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, who officiated at the official unveiling of the project, told participants that there were high expectations in the project, highlighting that it could change the face of the country’s creative industry, which is currently in its development stage.


“This is a platform that is going to make it possible for many of our young people to nurture the talents and the innovations they have, which was almost impossible before. What the Government does is to provide an enabling environment, and this is what we are doing now,” she said.


The Minister also indicated that the project will facilitate the Government by catalysing the creation of jobs among the youth, saying that ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi is also embedded in the country’s vision, particularly the National Strategy for Transformation.

“The strategy is a seven-year government programme that is also looking at other avenues that can create jobs for young people, and this is one of them,” she noted, sending a message to the youth who might have started from scratch, that there is now something that they can tap.

Creative artists have for long advocated for such initiatives, but players have not always given the creative industry the support it deserves.

John Ntigengwa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Sports and Culture, said the project could prove the industry is worth more to the country’s economy than many would expect, just like in other countries like U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Malaysia where creative industries contribute billions to those economies.

“In 2016 alone, the creative industry generated billions. Currently, it stands out in providing youth employment. The ArtRwanda project comes at a very crucial time,” he noted, urging the private sector to step in and look at it as an avenue to invest in and reap benefits in the long-term.

For James Vuningoma, the Head of Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC), initiatives like ArtRwanda will help Rwanda claim its place at the global stage. He, however, indicated that its success will depend on the ideas and innovations developed by the young people and the collective efforts of stakeholders.

How will it be implemented?

Road trips will be conducted in the districts of Rubavu, Musanze, Kayonza, Rusizi, Huye, and Kigali where contestants can audition under their selected categories. 120 contestants will be selected to move on to the next phases.

Each week, Imbuto Foundation will select performers and they will receive challenges after which the least successful will be eliminated. Throughout the project, contestants will be mentored by industry players, giving them opportunity to support their artistic development and future career aspirations.

A grand finale will take place in December, where the winners of the project will be announced. After the grand finale, the top winners will be incubated to harness their careers from January all through to December, next year.

It is a project that Geraldine Umutesi, the Deputy Director General of Imbuto Foundation, said will be sustained to make sure it benefits more creative Rwandans in the long-term: "The project has started and it will go on until 2019. But we want to continue the implementation of this idea and make it a long-term programme that will facilitate the development and promotion of talent, because it is well aligned with the country’s vision".

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