Supported by Hivos East Africa in partnership with Twaweza Communications, the umbrella Creative Economy Working Group (CEWG) convened a 2 day peer-to-peer learning forum in December 2016 on the state of the creative industry in Nairobi. Drawing more than 50 creative industry practitioners and policy makers, discussions concentrated on the need to promote the creative industry in Kenya.
Creative sector practitioners offer more than mere entertainment: they also contribute to economic and social development. Besides the importance of a conducive policy environment to help the sector to thrive, participants highlighted the positive effects of recent interactions with the CEWG. In counties such as Meru, Nakuru, Kisumu, Machakos, and Mombasa, time and energy is invested in learning exchanges and in actively engaging with county governments and business communities on policies and resources. Some groups are developing structured responses to opportunities and challenges while others have started putting together strategic plans in order to systematize their work.
Forum presenters included practitioners, legal experts, investment advisers and other experts. Discussions delved into cultural and creative industries platforms, content regulation and the constitution, and opportunities for trade in the creative goods. Other topics included the meaning and practice of copyright-based industries, classification of the cultural and creative industries and highlights of the Traditional Knowledge and Creative Expression Bill. Sector players underlined the importance of protecting the gains made through the Constitution of Kenya and took exception to recent efforts by the Kenya Film Classification Board to curtail artistic freedom.
Moving forward, participants agreed that there is a lot of policy work that needs to be done. For example, re-engaging with the Government on policy and regulation aspects, ensuring relevant issues are inscribed in the Culture Bill, and finalizing the Film Policy and Bill, the Creative Economy Policy, The Arts Policy, theNational Heritage Policy, the Language Policy and Bill, and review of the Kenya Cultural Centre Act.
Other urgent issues identified included rethinking the intellectual property sector, improving information dissemination and sharpening civic engagement with Government. The creation of a creative economy web portal (www.wabunifu.org) was viewed as a great opportunity for enhancing the work of the sector.
Participants were highly appreciative for the opportunity to learn from each another. The meeting was educative to many and allowed extensive engagement with different stakeholders and broad sharing of ideas. The meeting also demonstrated the growing work of the Creative Economy Working Group in consolidating players and ideas which will be important in pushing the industry forward.