1-54 Interview
with African Culture Fund

Abdoulaye Konate, Ghana 1 Kente, poids et couronne, 2020, Mixed media textile, 363 x 295 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957.

For the London 2020 fair, 1-54 and Christie’s partnered to offer limited-edition tote bags featuring artworks by Godfried Donkor (represented by Gallery 1957), Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (represented by Jack Bell Gallery), and Sungi Mlengeya (represented by Afriart Gallery). Discover them here!

Sale proceeds were donated to the African Culture Fund, a pan-African organisation supporting the arts education sectors and cultural and creative industries on the African continent. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Culture Fund have continued to support the resilience of African artists and cultural actors who the crisis has negatively impacted.

Following the success of last year’s 1-54 x Christie’s Limited Edition Tote Bag campaign, 1-54 spoke with Mamou Daffé, President of the African Culture Fund.

Answers by M Mamou Daffé,
President of the African Culture Fund

August 2021

Can you tell us about the AFC’s mission?

The African Culture Fund (ACF) is an initiative that defends a continent’s desire to write new narratives and take its legitimate place on the world stage through the voice of its unique culture.

The mission’s Fund is to encourage creativity, production and professionalization across the entire creative and cultural industries value chain thereby contributing to ensure access to decent jobs and improving the living conditions of artists, professionals and their immediate environment sustainably. These missions will be fulfilled while upholding the principles of fundamental rights and freedoms, cultural diversity, equity and social justice.

This is specifically about:
– Promoting and supporting cultural creativity and capacity building of actors
– Promoting cultural entrepreneurship and artistic production
– Encouraging the circulation and distribution of African cultural goods and services
– Improving the working conditions and revenues as well as defending the rights of artists and creative practitioners on the African continent.

Beyond its mission to stimulate artistic creation, production and dissemination, the Fund aims to contribute to socio-economic development and the promotion of cultural rights, freedom of expression and cultural diversity through the support of committed artists who, with their imagination, create behavioral change and social progress. Thus, the Fund aims to contribute to the writing and creation of new narratives of social change in Africa through the innovative projects it finances. It gives meaning and enables this new African philanthropic initiative to create a new space for aesthetic exploration, artistic experimentation, and engaging Africans for Africa.

Given that you work continent-wide, how do you choose which creative initiatives to support?

The Fund in its principle finances only through calls for proposals in the form of project grants. The African Culture Fund finances and supports artists and cultural actors through calls for proposals in the following disciplines: – Visual arts (film, visual arts, photography, video arts, digital arts, design, sculpture, decorative arts, audiovisual, etc.); – Performing arts (music, dance, theater, street arts, puppetry, etc.); – Structuring and development of cultural organizations.

The Fund works in a transparent and rigorous manner in the selection process of the jury members. For each call for proposals, the Fund uses a specific jury that changes with each call. The jury is made up of professionals with experience and knowledge of the African cultural and creative sector from all regions of the African continent and its diaspora. ACF Board members, Ambassadors and Focal Points are also from the five regions of the African continent.

In practice, for all of the Fund’s calls for projects, one of the criteria is the regional balance, which means that we fund projects that cover all regions of Africa. Also, ACF’s Pan-African capacity building program, called ACF ACADEMY, is organized in all regions through hubs in Tunis (Northern Africa), Segou (Western Africa), Mahe (Eastern Africa), Kinshasa (Central Africa), Johannesburg (Southern Africa). All these actions and strategies give ACF its Pan-African character.

The pandemic has severely affected the creative and artistic communities worldwide. How has the AFC has reassessed its priorities in order to meet the immediate needs of creatives across the continent?

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the artists and cultural actors of the world. The actors of the African continent have not been sidelined in this difficult period. In many African countries, the majority of creation, production and dissemination spaces were closed and artists were out of work, without prospects, many of them still live between despair and helplessness. This puts enormous pressure on professional organizations, cultural enterprises and associations that are at the basis of cultural life. Under these conditions, it became an urgent priority to develop strategies to assist and support artists and cultural organizations so that creativity and artistic productivity do not stop, but also to enable them to effectively resist the pandemic and preserve the socio-economic fabric of the already fragile African creative sector. It is in light of this observation that the African Cultural Fund (ACF) has launched a major campaign of solidarity and support for creation through the launch of its Solidarity Fund for Artists and Cultural Organizations in Africa (SOFACO), an urgent response to the COVID-19 crisis. The main objective of SOFACO is to strengthen the resilience of artists and cultural organizations through support for creation and the rebuilding of the social fabric of the arts sector in Africa facing the COVID-19 crisis. To date, we are in the third SOFACO appeal which allowed us to support 120 individual artists from 40 African countries (SOFACO 1); 45 cultural organizations from 21 African countries (SOFACO 2); 30 individual artists and 25 cultural organizations from 22 countries (SOFACO 3).

As the president of ACF, what do you find most exciting about creative scenes in Africa? What is your vision for the future?

I am passionate about the future. The creative scenes in Africa shine with potential through the youth, dynamism and creativity of artists and cultural operators. Africa has an extraordinary cultural resource through its heritage and the imagination of its artists; this for me is exciting and indicates a bright and promising future for the African creative sector. This is why our vision is to further promote the professionalization of artists and cultural actors, all of which will help the structuring and sustainability of cultural organizations, and ensure the prosperity of the creative sector, and, the development of our territories. ACF is bold, inclusive and accessible for all Africans.

How can the wider community support creative industries? How can they support the ACF?

The wider community can support the creative industries through their involvement and participation in arts and cultural activities.

What makes the Fund original is that it’s an initiative emanating from the artists and cultural actors of the continent who are the first contributors, and who are committed to the professionalization and development of the creative sector, a first experience in terms of handling the development of the African creative sector by the artists and cultural actors of the continent.

The Fund encourages the investment of private actors from the continent and beyond in this creative sector which is a sector of the future. It contributes to the foundation of true cultural philanthropy essential to one of the youngest continents in the world in terms of demography.

Like the contributing artists, it is possible to support the actions of the ACF through donations artworks, donations in kind to support projects.


For more information about the African Cultural Fund, click here!

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