The Botswana Society of Arts (BSA) is embarking on a training programme that will impart performing artists with good leadership, managerial and organizational skills to enhance their capacity as entrepreneurs.
The Arts Entrepreneurship Development Programme (AEDP) is expected to equip up to 30 artists with business and management skills necessary to successfully market themselves and their work. The initiative is a joint venture with Fikani Regional Support Services and Leoa Cultural Promotions Pty Ltd, in collaboration with Alliance Fran├ºaise de Gaborone.
“The competitive nature of today’s market, combined with the current economic downturn, makes it more important than ever that artists be equipped with the necessary tools to establish financially sustainable enterprises,” said Lebogang Matsididi, the coordinator at BSA.
He said by providing artists with basic business skills, they are helping to ensure a vibrant future for the country’s vital arts sector.
Artists play a critical role in enhancing economy, identity and quality of life. Artists will receive specialized information and training in the areas of determining how to make a living through ability, determining creative ways to supply a differentiated product, transforming the idea into a product through good planning and setting up a monitoring system to assess performance.
Entrepreneurship can be used to empower artists to produce goods and provide services that contribute to employment creation and national economic development.
“The lack of entrepreneurial and organizational skills amongst local artists is a serious constraint on their ability to become self-driven, self-reliant and to reduce their dependence on government for jobs,” he said.
The absence of entrepreneurial skills is a particularly big challenge for young performing artists who have limited opportunities for exposure, since public performances are held irregularly and only during important celebrations or events.
Matsididi said the few local artists who have been successful have proved that it is actually possible to make a living from the arts. However, most of these have been forced to follow their careers outside the country, for lack of opportunity at home.
“The programme seeks to reverse this trend and give artists the tools to carve a career within the country. At the moment, there is increasing interest in both visual and performing arts from all age groups,” he said.
The government is also playing a role in cultural development, through policy initiatives, such as the imminent establishment of an Arts Council, and the recognition by the Human Resource Development Advisory Council of the potential contribution of the cultural economy to GDP, and the provision of resources and guidance for artists.
There is potential for the economic exploitation of the arts to provide a sustainable livelihood for artists. Artists have been especially hard hit in the current economic downturn and this program is designed to give them the skills they need to sustain them and continue pursuing their artistic careers.