Artists will no longer have their projects suspended due to lack of materials, thanks to a proposed system which will allow artists in different professions to exchange services.
The system dubbed, ‘Jamii Art Bank’ or ‘The East African Cultural Bank’, was initiated by Rwanda Arts Initiative, in partnership with Africalia Belgium, a cultural organisation.
Samuel Sangwa, the programme coordinator of Rwanda Arts Initiative, explained that the system will allow artists, and professionals working with artists, to give their time and get services they need in exchange.
“We face issues of lack of skills. For instance, one may have a project that requires an accountant but be restrained by lack of funds to pay him.
Then, he will get an accountant to serve him for free. One may be an expert in accounts but inept in other skills. So, the system is expected to address such issues.
It’s a community of people committed to helping one another,” he said, adding that the system doesn’t come to replace employment opportunities, but to help artists when they are hindered by lack of capacity or materials.
According to Sangwa, the system is expected to be effective in January next year. “Meanwhile, we will be consulting artists to make improvements where necessary.”
How it works
The unit of time value in Jamii Art Bank is called Zawadi. Those who ask for time will fill a form indicating needed services.
People will register online and show their location, profession and area of expertise. This profile will be accessible to all registered members.
Every member will check the requests and suggest offering the requested services in which they have skills.
Once the service is offered, the two members will fill the report online to inform the administration on the made exchanges.
The system will help artists to create networks and collaborate, as well as discover the competence of others.
Artists hailed the project, saying it will contribute to the growth of their professions.
Didacienne Nibagwire, a dramatist and project manager working with Ishyo Arts Centre, says she will benefit a lot from the system.
“We have projects and most of them stall due to lack of simple skills or financial means. Others will be helping me to do things I’m not skilled enough at since you may know something but there are other things you don’t,” she says.
“We are used to doing things for others just for free. But some helped while others did not. So this will be formal and we expect more mutual assistance,” she notes.
“The project is so important. Writers and young ones in particular, are blocked by lack of mentorship and motivation from experienced authors. This system will help them meet people with such capacity,” adds Zephylin Nzirabatinya, an author.
According to Luc Mayitoukou, head of Senegal-based cultural agency Zhu Culture, the system has been effective in his country and has notably helped artists.
“The system will have a good future once it is implemented. I am very optimistic that it will be successful. There are artists that are willing and committed. So I am assured of its future and implementation. It’s a platform for artists to collaborate and it will undoubtedly support them.”