#Artwatch Arts News 01/20/2023


In November, 2023, The Gambia through the National Centre for Arts & Culture will conclude the project ‘’Capacity Building for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage and Contributing to Sustainable Development’’. Project budget: US$ 275,938 Source: France’s earmarked contribution to the Fund Dates of implementation: 01/12/2021 – 01/12/2023. Both The Gambia and Ghana have already submitted their progress reports as we confirmed.

Artwatch – The Gambia finds the report of the 13 April, 2022 UNESCO publication that reads, The beginning of the UNESCO project ‘Capacity Building for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Contribution to Sustainable Development in The Gambia’ was celebrated early April at the National Museum of the Gambia in Banjul. This voluntary contribution by France to the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Fund will allow for in-depth training of stakeholders involved in safeguarding ICH, in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) of the Gambia Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and with the UNESCO office in Dakar. This event is the result of several months of sensitization, planning and mobilization, all in the context of the pandemic.

As mentioned in the report, the training activities will enable local actors to enhance their knowledge of the 2003 Convention. They will also enable them to introduce them to methodologies for participatory inventories, as well as to the development of safeguarding plans and measures. These will be organized in close collaboration with national institutions and will ensure the involvement of local communities in the seven administrative regions. A communication strategy will also be put in place to give visibility to the project. This will include the production of catalogs, videos and a public database listing the elements of the national inventories.

We managed to find a picture of ”Work-Chop” in The Gambia that does not include Creative Industries players or actors. And these are the stakeholders, Local Organizations, Institutions referred to in this entire project description. So what has NCAC and Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the UNESCO Gambia departments do in the following action activities;

In-depth training of stakeholders involved in safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage? Several months of sensitization, planning, and mobilization, marked by the pandemic context?
What training has been done for local actors to enhance their knowledge of the 2003 Convention? This training has been done to introduce those same local actors to the Participatory Inventory Methodology as well as to the development of safeguarding plans of measures? Wow, wow! How can they do this without expertise? Those who are knowledgeable and skilled at ICT and its efficiencies are the Cultural Sector Actors and Local Communities. In addition, they have the proper infrastructure for documentation. The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and NCAC never did that to Gambia to be honest.

The NCAC reports having built close relationships with national institutions and ensuring the involvement of local communities from seven regions of The Gambia. At first glance, it appears that they did anything other than provide technical expertise for the project goals. They can put in place an effective management system and support the locals and communities.

As Artwatch – The Gambia realized they initially mobilized locals who are not culturally or creatively inclined in the region of the Gambia and called it ‘Knowledge Building,’ without any skill training infrastructure or television training or vocational training component to ensure the foundations were set for introducing these locals and actors to participation in participatory inventories . Look total joke!!!

It is interesting to note that articles we wrote before this piece were marked with disagreement from artists down to NCAC officers and creative sector players. The Communication Strategy was designed to give visibility to the Videography, Music, Dance, and Theater Sectors, as well as to Community Outreach activities. What prominent individuals are mentioned in this article in the culture sector? No ITC Arts Company, No Musician mentioned, No media company was identified. Do we want to say Culture isn’t a part of safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage? The report specifically stated that Catalogs, Videos, and Public databases listing the elements of National inventories would be produced.t in the report. How can this be achieved without the necessary materials, infrastructure and skills in the first place? You need to have a Vocational Training Centre or National Arts & Culture Academy to transfer knowledge and develop human capacity. So it is just a waste of resources and nothing else!

Finally, the report noted that this initiative reinforces Gambia’s efforts to safeguard ICH with UNESCO’s support, which began in 2011 when the country ratified the Convention. It is also part of a broader national drive to strengthen the protection and safeguarding of its cultural heritage.

We want our readers to know about the 2003 UNESCO Convention. This article explains the main goal of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is to safeguard the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

Such heritage may be manifested in domains such as oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practice about nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship. This definition provided in Article 2 of the Convention also includes instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with intangible cultural heritage.

Now Gambia see for yourself if this isn’t exploitation and loss of revenue! Artwatch – The Gambia needs answers from NCAC and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture where they put over Million ?

Actually, the project pool was for Gambia and Ghana, but the fact remains that there has been mismanagement of funds.

Block TV Gambia we will like to get someone from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture and NCAC to react to these question.