Friday, January 7, 2011

Kennedy Center President to Meet with African Art Leaders

Michael M. Kaiser, the President of the Kennedy Center, announced Wednesday that he is transporting his arts management in February to five countries in Africa.

As an extension of the training programs at the center, Kaiser plans to hold meetings in Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Kampala, Uganda and Harare, Zimbabwe.

Those nations have had participants in the center's training sessions in Washington. "They all expressed a need for more training in those countries. And I thought we had ignored the central part of Africa," Kaiser said.

Kaiser has conducted sessions in Egypt and South Africa, some of the 70 countries that have participated in the center's outreach.

The center itself has only spotlighted performing arts from Africa in a three-year festival, African Odyssey, that ran from 1997 to 2000.

The issues are very similar to ones Kaiser encountered when he held a national listening tour in all 50 states called "Arts in Crisis." "The resources are different," he explained. "In the United States many people are expected to support the arts. That is not so in Africa. There is very little individual fund-raising. And that's true in most countries of the world."

Most of the countries he is visiting, Kaiser said, "do not have a lot of government support and the question is how do you put funding together. Funding, marketing and artistic issues are very central." Many organizations are supported by funders from Europe.

The travel is scheduled for February 7-14. The program is privately supported by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the center.

Source: Washington Post Online

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