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Bamenda NEEDS a cultural Center!

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Bamenda NEEDS a cultural Center!
  
  

 


Why this is important

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 governance. 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 THE NWR a) Economic growth Creating a 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. b) Cultural policy and the diversity of cultural expressions A convenience 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. c) Culture-based methods in qualitative development A cultural 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. d) A role for performing artists in qualitative development processes Giving 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. e) Expressing yourself and finding identity Not having 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. f) Performing artists working for change Cultural 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. g) Culture and human rights 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 will. 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. RECOMMENTATIONS 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 is found. CONCLUSION 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 Region.

Posted August 16, 2017
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