The Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) initiative will be launched in The Gambia on 18thJune 2022.
PANAF was established in November 2021 in response to the need of an active and inclusive regional voice in the creative sector that could raise awareness of incidents of artistic freedom violations and collaborate with artistic rights advocates in regional and national advocacy efforts.
In The Gambia, SELAM has partnered with Team Gom Sa Bopa to develop a unified voice for artists, and cultural producers advocating for artistic freedom in the music and film industries. The project will include capacity building, policy support and lobbying, research, workshops and report publication as well as monitoring and documentation of violations with the goal of forming alliances for knowledge exchange and cooperative advocacy campaigns.
“This partnership is extremely important as the space for free thinkers on the continent continues to dwindle; artists are finding it increasingly difficult to practise any of the creative arts that require conscious use of skill and creative imagination,” SELAM regional programme director Lucy Ilado said.
“We cannot celebrate African creators’ achievements across disciplines without acknowledging the works we cannot enjoy due to censorship in the arts and the internet – or the many more works that cannot be envisioned or made because of these restrictions. Engaging with lawmakers on the significance of recognizing and defending the rights of all artists to create and disseminate their work without fear of retaliation is one of the things we are most looking forward to.”
Since the dawn of the new dispensation (2017), The Gambia has found a new lease of freedom for the creative sector which is thriving given the proliferation of artistic platforms available in the country. However, in the rest of Africa this is not the case with a number of cases where artists have faced challenges while practising their art. Team Gom Sa Bopa, SELAM and Partners will endeavour to maintain a continental perspective to learn from best practices in an ever changing environment, according to them.