With presence in countries like Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda and now Uganda, the Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) seeks to create 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.
Spearheaded by SELAM; a cultural organisation that has been here for over 20 years executing diverse cultural programs, the initiative that was launched on 6 May 2022 is expected to develop a unified voice for artists, and cultural producers advocating for artistic freedom in the music and film industries. This is however expected to be achieved with a partnership between SELAM Pearlwood(an Umbrella organization for Uganda’s film industry) and the uniting body for all musicians in Uganda; Uganda Musicians Association.
“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 Llado said.
She added that it is not possible to celebrate African creators’ achievements across disciplines without acknowledging the works we can’t enjoy due to censorship in the arts and the internet – or the many more works that can’t be envisioned or made because of these restrictions. Lucy advised that 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 they are most looking forward to.
Top on the list of objectives is capacity building, lobbying, research, cultural policy development, workshops, conference and report publication as well as monitoring, and documentation of violations, all with the goal of forming alliances for knowledge exchange and cooperative advocacy campaigns.