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Unlocking Africa’s creative potential through the Cultural Vibrancy Index

By Brenda Fashugba, Regional Lead: Creative Economy, Sub-Saharan Africa, British Council

by Tia

The Index maps the continent’s dynamic creative scene, spotlighting challenges and sparking opportunities

In recent years, Africa has emerged as a vibrant canvas for creative expression, marked by a dynamic fusion of tradition and innovation. This evolution has not only enriched the continent’s cultural fabric but has also opened up myriad opportunities for economic and social development. However, despite this burgeoning potential, the African creative landscape still confronts numerous challenges that hinder its full realisation.

The  Cultural Vibrancy Index was developed in partnership with Africa No Filter, Creative Economy Practice at CCHub with the funding and support of the British Council, and was introduced at the SoCreative Summit. The Index serves as a pivotal tool in understanding and navigating these complexities. As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the summit, and as we look beyond its conclusion in 2024, it’s crucial to reflect on the profound insights and impacts derived from this innovative platform.

Africa’s creative sector is at a crossroads: rich with opportunities yet plagued by significant hurdles. On one hand, there is an undeniable surge in global interest towards African art, music, film, and fashion, seen in the increasing presence of the continent’s artists, musicians, filmmakers, and designers on international platforms.

On the other hand, the sector struggles with systemic issues such as inadequate infrastructure, limited access to funding, and a lack of data that can attract further investment. Recognising these challenges, the British Council supported the development of the Cultural Vibrancy Index. This innovative tool is designed to measure and map the cultural activities of various African cities, providing a much-needed database of creative hotspots and events. It aims to furnish stakeholders – ranging from local entrepreneurs to international investors – with reliable data to make informed decisions, thereby fostering a thriving creative economy.

At the British Council, we have long championed the creative industries as catalysts for cultural and economic growth, and we are committed to nurturing the creative potential of Africa’s youth. Through our Creative Economy programmes, we support growth and help form inclusive, sustainable creative businesses. These initiatives are designed to facilitate entrepreneurship, enhance skills, and create market access opportunities. In addition to financial support, we focus on building collaborative environments and ecosystems that nurture innovation and creativity.

Platforms like the SoCreative Summit exemplify our efforts to enable young visionaries to lead and shape their futures. During the summit, discussions underscored the importance of the Cultural Vibrancy Index in solving Africa’s “database problem.” For too long, the narrative around African creativity has been hindered by a lack of concrete data, making it difficult to showcase and scale the sector’s true potential. The Index changes this narrative by providing a comprehensive database that lists events, tracks participation, and measures the impact of creative activities across the continent. This is crucial for attracting investment, supporting policy formulation, and guiding creative enterprises towards sustainability and scalability.

While 2024 marks the last year of the SoCreative Summit, its legacy will endure through the SoCreative eLearning platform. This initiative will continue to support the creative economy by providing resources and learning opportunities that are accessible to all and stands as a testament to the ongoing commitment of the British Council to support  Africa’s creative sector. Designed specifically for aspiring and early-stage young African entrepreneurs, this free online programme is a cornerstone of our broader Creative Economy initiative aimed at fostering an ecosystem in which young creatives can flourish. The eLearning platform offers a structured curriculum that progresses from basic to intermediate levels, covering everything from the fundamentals of the African Creative Economy to more nuanced aspects of business operations and social impact. The programme doesn’t just educate – it also connects participants to a broader network of support through mentoring, coaching, and potential incubation and acceleration opportunities within the British Council’s network across participating countries.

The journey of Africa’s creative landscape is one of both celebration and challenge. As we leverage tools like the Cultural Vibrancy Index, we not only illuminate the path to greater economic empowerment but also ensure that the creative expressions of Africa are rightfully acknowledged and valued on the global stage. The future is bright, and with continued support and recognition, Africa’s creative industries will no doubt flourish, transforming challenges into opportunities for generations to come.

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