If there is an industry that will come out of the Covid-19 pandemic damaged more than the rest, it is definitely the creative economy.
It remains the only industry that was never opened when a staggering reopening started taking shape in mid-2020, yet, creatives have remained optimistic.
This has informed at least many of the Kuonyesha Symposiums in the past few months.
The workshops have all attracted different panelists and tackled different topics such as intellectual property, sustainability as well as funding.
With a panel of Prof. Anthony Kakooza, a lawyer with a lot of interest in intellectual property, Tshaka Mayanja, a celebrated artist and producer, Tessa Bahana, Director at the Uganda Arts Trust, and visual artist Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi moderating, there was a lot to pick.
Their work was not only about discussing the industry but to finding solutions that the industry can be sustainable – many issues were discussed around funding, the purpose of it to the objective of funders, but most of the time, all panelists agreed that it is important for the artist to be focused before thinking about being funded.
For example, Spire Ssentongo, a cartoonist and one of the Kuonyesha Art Fund grantees of 2020 noted that when he got selected for funding last year, he had a lot of questions for the organisation, especially because of the voice his works represents.
“I had tried getting funding before this and it seems many of these people wanted to change the subject of my works before they could fund me,” he said, adding that when Kuonyesha contacted him, he had to make sure they were aware of critical works.
According to Mayanja, funding may not necessarily drive quality in the industry but stagnant it.
“There was a time when music in Uganda was getting all the funding from corporate companies and instead of this fostering creativity stunted it, it attracted all sorts of people that were there for the money,” he said.
He further notes that the reason Uganda doesn’t have an artist known globally is mainly that our music society doesn’t have sophisticated music that stands out.
“Creatively speaking, the country has not produced enough quality, music-wise and it has nothing to do with funding,” he said.
The symposium at the Sheraton Hotel also doubled as the presentation of this year’s grantees of the Kuonyesha Art Fund.
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