started this petition to
The Minister of Arts And Culture, Republic of Cameroon
AN ADVOCACY FOR A CULTURAL
CENTRE IN BAMENDA, THE NORTH WEST REGION
PRESENTED TO THE HONORABLE MINISTER
OF ARTS AND CULTURE OF CAMEROON.
WHY A CULTURAL CENTRE MATTERS IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTHWEST REGION.
It has been observed that
development stakeholders are failing to engage with and resolve the crucial
component of qualitative development by undermining a cultural centre in the
Northwest Region (NWR). Current development indicators do not always appreciate
the importance of cultural expression, and the lack of inclusion of cultural
components in development strategies can hamper human development. There is
much that culture can do to drive development further. Creative industries offer
a significant potential for economic growth, especially for youths looking to
develop and exploit budding talents. When culture-based methods such as
participatory theatre are adopted by development stakeholders, messages about
governance and messages about the behavior change of the youths can be more
effective and reach new audiences. And when the rights of people to cultural
expression are promoted, they can affirm their identities and strengthen
There are development
practitioners who accept that a cultural centre is overwhelmingly important and
that it is inseparable from everything else that artists can do in the
Northwest Region. But how is it possible to move from broad assertions like
these to something more defined that can be incorporated into policy and
qualitative development strategies? How do we set about recognizing and
supporting the valuable connections between a cultural centre and development
of artistic talents of the performing artists in the Northwest Region?
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN A CULTURAL CENTRE AND QUALITATIVE DEVELOPMENT IN
cultural centre in the NWR can generate real economic development. Local
economies can grow when niche markets are found for performing artists, through
organizing entertainment events, but cultural practitioners in particular can
benefit if they are provided with a fair performing facility.
policy and the diversity of cultural expressions
and well-located cultural centre can help promote the diversity of cultural
expressions, such as a range of music, films, drama, spoken poems and standup
comedy. Social development and cohesion
can benefit from this diversity, as audiences can be assured of enjoying not
just other cultures’ voices, but also to their own.
methods in qualitative development
centre is a great tool in qualitative development interventions. Performing
artists can communicate key human interest or governance messages to new
audiences in a more effective manner. A cultural centre is also a resource for
youths when traditional knowledge handed down through generations, such as
natural resource management expertise, complement other development approaches.
role for performing artists in qualitative development processes
performing artists a space for reflection and social critique is an important
part of the qualitative development process. Participatory qualitative
development methods can benefit from incorporating a cultural centre, and from
recognizing that support for cultural expression helps people become owners of
the development process.
yourself and finding identity
access to a creative environment and a range of cultural voices can make it
harder for people to find and affirm different aspects of their identity.
People respect and understand each other better if they appreciate their own
cultures, as well as those of others.
artists working for change
practitioners and producers are invaluable at times of political stress. When
crises emerge, performing artists often operate within a relatively safe space
and can offer a strong civil society voice.
and human rights
matter, partly because they are about people having their own culture, to an
environment where their creativity flourishes, and to a range of cultural voices are all important ways
of making sure that support for culture translates into giving peoples real
choices and opportunities.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
Development stakeholders must
start to adopt long-term strategies to take account of a cultural centre. This
means coming up with indicators that measure cultural well-being as a
qualitative development end in itself. It also means finding new ways of quantifying
and measuring the impact that support for cultural expression can have. Above
all, these strategies must be backed up with financial commitment and political
There is an urgent need to make
citizens more aware of culture’s importance in qualitative development
processes. In advocating for a cultural centre, performing artists under the
auspices of La Liberte/Arts group seek to enable this dialogue.
In July 2017, over 100 performing
artists came together at La Liberte/Arts’ Headquarters in Bamenda to take steps
to advocate for a cultural centre in the Northwest Region, amongst other
things. Other things remaining equal, the forum proposed that the Administrative Garage beside Ayaba
Hotel could be utilized as an interim cultural centre before a permanent site
As our advocacy work to promote
the role of performing arts in qualitative development continues and expands,
the cultural centre project will continue to solicit ideas in creative ways
from those who want to express themselves culturally across the Northwest