COVID-19: Uganda’s Creative Industry Embracing New Normal

Kampala – Uganda’s creative industry has adopted technology and the digital space to revive its operations after facing a disheartening cultural catastrophe that led to thousands losing their jobs and some businesses closing.

This follows the Corona-virus pandemic that has greatly impacted on almost all businesses. As a measure to contain the spread of the virus, nearly all the country’s business sectors took a sit back to adhere to the National health directives.

A report conducted by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in collaboration with KQ Hub – a creative space, shows that the Creative Industry model relies almost exclusively on its ability to bring people together in mass that purchase tickets to attend concerts, poetry nights, exhibitions, theater showcasing, museum visits, and comedy shows, among others.

Generating income from ticket sales and events allows artists and artists’ organizations to sustain themselves and the livelihood of their staff and families, in addition to the general public supported by their tax remittances.

Wabwire Ian, the Team Leader of KQ Hub, a creative space in Uganda said that the Performing arts industry has been affected most because with visual you can use social media to meet your clients whereas with performing arts ,you have to meet the audience and engage with them physically.

“Performing arts involve people paying to get into a space to intimately connect with the artists which is not happening now,’’ he said

He added saying that most artists are now going online but it’s different and it’s not something you would wish to be part of because it disconnects you from the artist. That is why people leave their homes to go to cinemas, comedy shows where they can connect physically with the artist.

Wabwire said that artists have to embrace the new normal, by being innovative and creative, skilling themselves digitally, re-strategizing and finding ways of democratizing the digital space so that people can access the content easily.

He added: “We cannot afford to just operate in the physical realm, we have to get digital savvy and that is how we can be resilient.”

 A mapping of cultural /creative industry in Uganda undertaken by the UNESCO National Commission of Uganda in 2009 showed that the industry was experiencing a steady growth before lock-down since the country fosters economic growth, job creation, exports earnings and promotes social inclusion, cultural diversity and human resource development.

Wabwire Ian (C) is joined by other youths in an outreach program

However much the pandemic has greatly challenged the creative industry, there are positive impacts that we see in the future. There will be a new crop of artists who are digitally savvy; we are going to get a group of artists who believe in collaboration and artists who think more broadly about sustainability, Wabwire noted

“I don’t see any government support to the creative industry, but instead I have only seen the creative industry support government through creation of content both in audio, visual materials that break down information and measures to fight COVID-19.

 Already so many artists have designed graphical content, recorded music that has amplified local people to take washing hands seriously and keep social distancing. It’s a shame somehow that just as a norm has been for government failing to support the sector even at this critical moment and vulnerability when festivals, concerts, exhibitions among others have been cancelled the government is still adamant on supporting the sector.” Says Sowedi Uthman, Hub Manager, Jabulani Arts Hub, Fort Portal

The Creative Industries are hoping that government will intervene by providing a relief investment budget and funds to help them get back on their feet.

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