Hivos Southern Africa has partnered with the Embassy of Norway to launch the Cultural Fund of Malawi aimed at stimulating the arts and culture sector in Malawi. The launch of the Euro 481,313 cultural fund, which has already attracted many actors in Malawi’s cultural sector, marks the beginning of a new era in the funding of arts and culture activities in the country.
According to UNESCO, major challenges in Malawi include severe lack of funding for culture and longer term training in the arts. This is despite the fact that strengthening the governance of culture can potentially unlock development opportunities. The country’s cultural and creative potential – from reggae, jazz, and festivals to artefacts and design – is seen as an important way of creating jobs, generating income through tourism and contributing to sustainable development.
The purpose of the Fund is to contribute to a dynamic, free and diverse cultural sector for improved living standards, economic growth and poverty reduction. Hivos Southern Africa is responsible for administering the funding and monitoring the implementation of the Fund.
For the Norwegian government, culture plays a significant role in the socio-economic development of a country. This is why Norway has supported many cultural activities in Malawi since 2000, especially those concerning preservation and promotion of Malawi’s tangible and intangible culture.
The present fund will focus more intensely on the promotion of cultural rights, aiming specifically at strengthening the capacity of cultural practitioners to participate in democratic processes and promoting the right to freedom of expression.
“I believe that culture is an important part both on a personal and on a national level. We are creating a fund that will be both experimental, innovative and creative. The aim is that the Cultural Fund will be a success in assisting the development of culture in Malawi,” said Ambassador Kikkan Haugen.
Tanja Lubbers, Hivos Southern Africa Director, said Malawi is endowed with a rich culture and traditions that have great potential to contribute to the national revenues through sectors such as eco-tourism, education, science and technology, agriculture, and information and communications technology.
“Malawian culture is a valuable resource which the Government and people of Malawi can develop and showcase at home and internationally,” said Lubbers.
Hivos believes that freedom of speech is the main measure of openness in a society. Where there is room for dissent and new voices, there is space for people with all their differences. An open Internet, independent media and space for art are necessary to fight for and protect freedoms in any society, anywhere in the world. For Hivos, freedom of expression is therefore not so much a means to achieve its ideals as an end in itself.