Creativity & Cultural Labour, Cultures of Creativity

AHRC Award for African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economies

Dr Roberta Comunian & Dr Lauren England

We are delighted to announce that Dr Roberta Comunian (CMCI, KCL), Dr Lauren England (CMCI, KCL) and Dr Brian Hracs (University of Southampton) have been awarded an AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement grant to develop an African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economies.

They will be working in partnership with three African university partners and three African academics – Dr Cornelius Onyekaba at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos (Nigeria), Mrs Ogake Mosomi at the School of the Arts and Design University of Nairobi (Kenya) and Mrs Avril Joffe at the Department of Cultural Policy and Management of University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) – and local creative economy project partners. 

The project follows their AHRC funded international research network grant Understanding and Supporting Creative Economies in Africa: Education, Networks and Policy”, which focused on identifying how creative economies could be better understood and supported. 

The overall aim of the follow-on project is to support the development of sustainable creative economies in Africa by engaging African higher education institutions and empowering them to interact with their creative economies and entrepreneurs working alongside sector project partners.

The African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economies will be centred around the development of a virtual knowledge hub (’the hub’) to support creative entrepreneurship in Africa and raise the profile of African academic work and collaborations. The hub will feature interviews, blogs and other resources for creative practitioners, entrepreneurs and researchers on creative careers, entrepreneurship knowledge and collaboration. It will also make the research findings and outputs (two books on higher education and policy and spaces and working practices) from the network grant accessible to wider audiences in the form of audio-visual chapters. 

As part of the project, 3 virtual Collaborative Imagination Weeks will take place, hosted by partner universities and involving creative entrepreneurs, project partners and academic researchers or community groups to identify development needs around key themes. The focus will be on Performing Arts at Lagos, Fashion at Nairobi and Film & Digital Media at Witwatersrand. 

Collaboration Imagination Weeks will provide opportunities for online exchange, networking and imagining what African sustainable creative economies could look like in the future. Participants will then be able to apply for a Creative Collaborations Voucher Scheme to develop a collaborative project/idea which makes a contribution to sustainable creative economies. 30 projects will be funded overall (10 from each African partner country). 

Collaborations will be followed by a Creative Partnerships Coordinator in each country (jobs created as part of the project) to capture and share knowledge and learning from the projects via the hub and inspire others and develop further collaborations in the future.

The final phase of the project will focus on strengthening the profile of research on creative economies as a key development area for Africa, by scoping the opportunities for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence (CoEs) in Sustainable Creative Economies within the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).

The project begins in November 2021 and will run until January 2023 – watch this space for the launch of the hub and announcements about collaboration activities.