Rwanda’s entertainment industry has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years, with several young artists breaking through while a few more established names have been nominated or even won awards regionally and beyond.
While the small size of the local market and copyright infringements have continued to disadvantage local artists, new initiatives have helped prop up the sector, somewhat resuscitating the industry.
One of them is the annual Art-Ubuhanzi contest, which was birthed only last year but has since impacted many young talents, from plastic arts, music and dance, and fashion, to acting and drama, photography and cinematography, and literature.
Overall, the sector was relatively vibrant until March when Covid-19 struck.
With no large gatherings allowed and movement largely curtailed to help fight the virus, the industry slipped into slumber. It was only a few months into the pandemic that some artists managed to release a few songs and showcase their works virtually albeit in very difficult conditions.
Nonetheless, it appears that stakeholders in the entertainment and creative industry have been scratching their heads figuring out how to help. Besides the small Covid-19 relief package that was announced by government a while back, a new project designed to avail creative options for artists to be active again has been rolled out.
The grant scheme, dubbed ‘Cultural and Creative Industry recovery fund’, saw up to 600 startups submit proposals on how they can come up with innovative ways to facilitate artists to reach their audiences even during pandemic times.
The 30 winners are set to be announced next week – with each startup set to walk away with Rwf10 million in seed funding.
These kinds of initiatives have the potential to transform the local entertainment sector and to make it more resilient to future shocks, while allowing it to create more jobs for particularly young people. These efforts should therefore be supported and emulated by, among others, corporate companies.
Also, more and more private businesses should adopt the culture of using local artists as brand ambassadors; it is a win-win after all.