Ideas, Stories, and Profiles

Information is the new gold. (This is me trying to own a quote someone else has probably stated while ago.) At a time when business corporations, startups and individuals are fighting to fit PR content in an ever-growing bandwidth, one element is standing above others when it comes to appealing to human sub-conscious: Art.

There used to be a time when visual art was only meant to capture reality. That was, essentially, before the invention of photography – which inspired artists to break free and create from imagination; out of which a new form of art was born. But it didn’t take long for art, which was still exploring the frontiers, to be hijacked by corporations.

Businesses now exploit art for commercial purposes – with the pretext of supporting artists – and it remains a big challenge for artists to survive without submitting to the demands of corporations. This hinders artistic freedom and slows creativity and growth.

I have had friends express, just recently, their excitement towards the entertainment events that are happening in Kigali this month. It’s good to see, and it’s contagious. Festival, parties, pool parties, concerts, “launch”, etc … are some of the things that vibrate the city and it’s only right to love it. But none of these can happen without a list of corporate logos at the bottom of posters, which come with ridiculous conditions in many cases.

Even in Kigali, companies will claim to support art and artists but the reality, the behind-the-scene is just different. Until the business ecosystem helps artists earn directly from their art, we are doing extremely little in terms of “support.”

So when people start posting that, say, local breweries are supporting art, I cannot pretend to agree. This is totally wrong.

Artists will tell you art for business is rubbish for mainly two reasons: One, it involves tons of rules, regulations, and guidelines. Two, their work has to be approved by people who rarely understand the process, what it takes, and how it works. Artists hate this, and we all know how painful it can be.

The day one of these companies decides to offer long-term support to an art centre, financially support regular artist mentor programmes or art workshops – with no strings attached – that’s when I will begin to chant in praise for their support. We all shall.

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