Uganda today 21st May 2020 joins the rest of the World to ccommemorate the World Culture Day under the theme “Art, Culture and Crises: Opportunities and Challenges in Uganda”. The Day provides an opportunity to create awareness to the public on the importance of culture in development, deepen the understanding of the values of cultural diversity and learn to “live together” in harmony.
This year, the Day is commemorated under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has spread across the world. The pandemic as well as other natural calamities including the recent floods in Kasese, the desert locusts in the north, landslides in the east and the rising water levels on Lake Victoria have all affected Ugandans adversely and some of the effects are likely to last a very long time.
Peace Mutuuzo the minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs says the culture and creative industries have not been spared the damage by these calamities.
“The entire creative value chain including– creation, production, distribution and access/marketing has been disrupted. It has further considerably weakened the professional, social and economic status of artists, artistes and performers and creatives and cultural professionals. In Uganda, over 300 cultural events were cancelled impacting over 700 artists and their fans. The economic, social and emotional cost is enormous” she revealed.
She added that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development partnered with UNESCO to organise the weekly ResiliArt Debates, which started on 16 April 2020 with the objective of bringing out the voices of creators so that they can shape effective policies of Government post COVID 19.
“I am happy to report that one of the immediate results of the engagement is the enhanced partnerships between Government Agencies such as the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) and the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda. NITA-U has pledged to provide digital payment platforms for the creative and culture sector to enable industry players reap from their content provision. This will be accompanied with trainings on security protocols in the digital environment” Mutuuzo says.
In the coming days, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to support the formalisation of culture and creative businesses into Small Scale Enterprises, to claim their rightful place in the economy. This will hugely contribute to solving the unemployment of youth and women in Uganda.
The minister commended artists who have contributed in various ways to the fight against COVID-19, arguing that this gesture of unity should be carried on even after COVID and for that reason, her Ministry has created a national platform bringing all artists together for ease of coordination, information, knowledge-sharing, professionalism and entrepreneurship.
“I take this opportunity to announce that with support from the European Union and UNESCO, Uganda is benefiting from a project on strengthening the Governance systems and legal frameworks. A new project to create measures to support local content development and professionalization of the Film sector in Uganda” will be launched in August 2020 in Uganda. This will address many of the leakages in which artists are not earning their worth in terms of intellectual property. It should therefore find us better organized” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Mutuuzo reminded parents, guardians, religious and cultural leaders of their cardinal responsibility of inculcating values, norms and practices into their children and those they stay with during this lock down. “We should encourage best practices of harmony and peace by talking about the negative effects of Female Genital Mutilation, Gender Based Violence and all other forms of violence. The raising cases of Gender Based and Violence against Children at the family level continue to be of concern and we must put an end to their occurrence” Mutuuzo said.