Culture minister launches a new report on the Status of Women Artists, others in Gambia

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By Fatou Dahaba

The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat NK Bah, formally launched a new report on the status of women artists and cultural professionals in the Gambia.

The 35-page report on the status of women artists and cultural professionals in the Gambia examined the respondents’ education and training, internet use, income level, and employment status.

This is the first countrywide study that interviewed 500 female artists nationwide in late 2022, giving stakeholders the utmost scrutiny to outline correct strategies to support female artists in line with the government’s desire to help women in all sectors.

Hamat Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, said the regulation is a significant milestone in the annals of arts and culture funding in the Gambia. ‘It shows the government’s commitment to supporting artists for job creation, economic uplifting, and producing works to reflect Gambian values and norms.’

“I want to assure you that the regulation will be gazetted, and then I will go to the cabinet and engage the National Assembly to get the funds needed to support the fund. I firmly believe that Gambian artists can do it better than artists in other countries when they get the needed funding support.”

The Tourism Minister maintains that the success was achieved because the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC) worked with partners to organize a nationwide consultative process with all relevant stakeholders to guide the design of a regulation to operationalize the national endowment fund for arts and culture in last October-November 2022.

“They organized workshops to validate the draft regulation to operationalize the national endowment fund; involved all key actors operating in the country whose mandate is linked to the improvement of female artists, such as women’s artistic associations; organized a nationwide data collection exercise regarding the status of female artists in the Gambia.”

He added that the NCAC also targeted 100 female artists and cultural professionals who received training on wide-ranging issues related to their professional development in March 2023.

“An important component of the project included the development of communication activities for awareness creation on the project, which is why the media have been involved with social media influencers and artists through their songs.’

Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of the National Center for Arts and Culture, said the project outcome would help artists get regular program funding and improve their economic and social status.

“This is a great day for Gambian arts and culture. For close to 2 decades, we have never been able to operationalize the national endowment fund for lack of regulation. Now, it is here.”

The Acting Secretary of UNESCO NATCOM, Ms. Maimuna Sidibeh, said it is an excellent achievement for the Gambia to become three selected from Africa and eighth in the world to benefit from the UNESCO Aschberg project entitled Improving the Status and Conditions of female artists.

She added that the creative sector contributes significantly to the global economy, representing 31% of the worldwide GDP, and this is why UNESCO promotes cultural and creative industries, which are major drivers of social and economic development.

As part of the event, the. Minister also delivered certificates of completion of the course to 100 female artists and cultural professionals who have undergone training in areas like copying, networking, and marketing of cultural goods from experts during a week-long training session held in December 2022. 

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