IDS is collaborating with partners from across East and West Africa in a novel activity to promote the role of arts and creative activities in contributing to positive environmental change. It builds on the concepts and partnerships developed in two preceding AHRC projects, ‘Citizen Voice’ and ‘Agropastoralist Cultures’.
The project connects artists, citizen activists, policymakers and implementers and researchers from Senegal, Ghana, Mauritania, Mali and Kenya. Former projects found that, in these contexts, artistic and creative activities tended to be used as a one-way mode of communication about environmental issues. For example, policy actors used plays to issue directives to citizens, and activists used songs to draw attention to problems affecting them. Yet, the arts were not commonly used as a channel for dialogue between these diverse actor groups.
To explore the extent to which such creatively-mediated dialogues could become possible in these countries, each country team will co-create an artwork in a collaborative workshop, while aiming to create real change in policy or practice on a given environmental issue. These issues include deforestation, sea-level rise and desertification. Country teams will share experiences and artistic outputs in a digital platform, including through an online exhibition space. The network, collaboration and artworks will remain available as an example of how the arts and cultural activities may be used as a novel dialogue mode between diverse groups who normally work in isolation or communicate through more conventional means. When the digital platform becomes public in 2023, new collaborators from across the continent are welcomed to join the network.