ResiliArt – Ethiopia: Strengthening the Resilience of Artists and Cultural Professionals beyond COVID-19

As an extension of the first UNESCO ResiliArt Debate organized by UNESCO Headquarters in partnership with International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) on 15 April 2020, on 6 May 2020, UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia organized the country specific debate, which brought together artists and cultural professionals from various sectors (music, theatre, literature, painting and etc.).The debate successfully raised awareness on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the culture and creative sector, livelihood of artists and cultural professionals and came up with recommendations on the development of policies and measures to help overcome this crisis. Participants followed the live streaming of the debate in both Amharic and English

H.E. Mrs. Bizunesh Meseret, Minister of Culture and Tourism on her welcoming speech stressed the importance of exchanging ideas and views on how to overcome the serious impacts of COVID-19 on the culture sector, particularly the artists, whose livelihood was highly affected by the pandemic. In spite of the challenges artists faced, the Minister appreciated their contribution in tackling the pandemic, through National Media and Arts Task Force established under the Press Secretary of Prime Minister Office (PM Office), led by the State Minister of Culture (MoCT), involving cultural institutions and associations from visual artists and writers.

The Director of the UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office to African Union and United Nations Economic Commission (UNECA) for Africa and UNESCO Country Representative to Ethiopia, , Madam  Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, highlighted the enormous global challenges the current health crisis had caused on the creative sector and how the pandemic had affected the entire creative value chain – creation, production, distribution and access. The Director stressed that artists and cultural professionals should envisage innovative and creative solutions, often by using digital tools to continue their activity and to connect with the public.

Panellists from the culture and creative sector gave country-specific presentations, among which, Dr. Bedilu Waqjira, who is a writer and an assistant professor of Humanities, Language Studies and Communication at Addis Ababa University acknowledged the effectiveness of cultural activities on achieving solidarity and emphasized on the need to improve digital adoption and innovation for art presentation. Dr. Elizabeth W/Giorgis, Associate Professor of Art History, Criticism and Theory in College of Performing and Visual Art and the Centre for African Studies at Addis Ababa University pointed out that COVID-19 had aggravated the existing situation of art being a neglected sector in Ethiopia. As a professional working in Art College, she advised the government to give more attention to and make adequate investment in art education.

UNESCO has undertaken a wide data collection and analysis efforts on a global scale, in order to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on the cultural sector and to identify measures of support deployed by governments for the sector. This data collection and analysis is available for consultation via the link “Interactive map on cultural initiatives in response to the COVID CRISIS” below.