The global creative economy is growing really fast and has become almost impossible to ignore but creativity today is not just linked to works of art but anything that requires a person to use his/her mind to solve or create something.
Many companies have come up with creative ways of creating solutions to certain needs thus allowing them to fall well within the category of creative industries. However at the heart of the creative economy are the creative arts, an industry whose potential has not been fully realised.
Our history showcases a people with so rich a culture, it literally oozed of art. From poems to sculptures, the Rwandans had it all and because of a background such as this, one may think art and artists would be held in high regard, sadly this isn’t so.
In efforts to revive the Rwandans’ love for the arts, the government has sponsored and encouraged many programs that foster the arts. The TVET programs that allow Rwandan youth to learn practical subjects related to the arts, a music school set up in Gisenyi to sharpen the talent of young musicians are examples of the progress made.
Spoken Word events held at various locations in Kigali like the innovation village as well as art studios like Inema arts center and Yego arts that give artists a platform to showcase their work not to mention the ever growing list of art affiliated events in Kigali, the country’s arts scene is yet to grow.
According to most people, a career in this particular industry doesn’t offer a big monetary reward and as a result it is not as alluring as all the other prospective career options. Many artists have since settled for art as a hobby and are more willing to do it for fun and pleasure than they are to pursue it as a perspective business opportunity.
Rwandan art work that ranges from paintings, designer clothing to sculptors and poems is most likely sold to foreigners than it is to locals. A fact I witnessed while at an art exhibition this week, the foreigners were more captivated by the artwork in comparison to the few Rwandans in attendance.
Although art has been known to inspire and encourage people to express themselves, it is also a tremendous way to showcase the culture and beauty of one’s country. However it is important to note that this industry harbors great potential to affect the national economy as well through the generation of jobs, wealth creation and cultural engagement. The creative industry shouldn’t be viewed as an industry that stands alone but rather seen as a link to all the other industries.
If developed, the creative industry can boost exports and in turn impact the economy enormously. Think about how industries like tourism and trade could be impacted if we increasingly exported our creative works abroad, the results would be colossal! This would evidently mean more jobs for the local population, exposure, revenue generation as well as attract investors.
In order for us as country to tap into the potential of the creative industry we must be willing to let go certain stereotypical beliefs towards the industry. Create a diverse, urban and inspiring environment in which these talented individuals can thrive. Some of the world’s leading names in the art industry like Pablo Picasso and Maya Angelou were able to do so because they received support from the communities in which they lived and as a result were able to perfect their work making them the top names in the art world.
Artistry also is otherwise known as skill or talent and hence needs to be continuously developed and what better way to do that than to create institutions that foster the study of these skills.
The author is a student at University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology.