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Lilongwe to host national conference on arts, culture

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By Sam Banda Jnr & Malenga Chienda

Ministry to Tourism, Culture and Wildlife in conjunction with Malawi National Commission for Unesco has organised a two-day national conference on arts and culture to be held at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe from October 24 to 25 2022.

The conference will be held under the theme ‘Leveraging Arts, Culture and Heritage for Sustainable Development’.

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A press statement says the main purpose of the conference is to provide a platform for national dialogue on policy and programming.

“The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage and share ideas on the work they are undertaking, challenges being encountered, proposals and concrete actions, as well as reflect on mainstreaming of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in arts and culture,” the statement reads.

The statement further says that the conference, to be held in hybrid format to allow those who may not be able to attend in person follow proceedings, is expected to bring about renewed and strengthened sense of purpose among stakeholders in the implementation of the Malawi National Cultural Policy.

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The conference, according to the statement, will also accord stakeholders in arts and culture an opportunity to exhibit products and services.

Director of Arts in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife’s Department of Arts Humphrey Mpondaminga described the conference as important and timely for the growth of the creative sector.

“For a long time, stakeholders have been complaining that we did not have a policy [which we put in place in 2015] but, beyond the enactment of the policy, we want to go back and review and see what is it that stakeholders have been doing, what challenges have they been facing and perhaps what proposals they can put on the table so that we fast-track the implementation of the National Cultural Policy,” Mpondaminga said.

He said the conference was also an opportunity for them to reflect on the mainstreaming of SDGs within arts and culture.

“If we look at our international instruments on cultural diversity, they really emphasise on issues of SDGs and, so, we want to look into all this,” Mpondaminga said.

Some of the key stakeholders targeted for the conference include arts associations and heritage associations, development partners and ministries.

Malawi National Commission for Unesco Project Manager Stony Makunganya said recently that their partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife is part of strengthening institutional capacities in implementing the Malawi Cultural Policy in line with the Unesco 2005 convention on protection of cultural expressions.

“The conference aims to support Malawi in the implementation of its Cultural Policy, which was enacted in 2015 and launched in 2018 as a tool for facilitating the effective exploitation of the arts, culture and heritage for social and economic development of the country and benefit of stakeholders,” Makunganya said.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi welcomed the development yesterday but was quick to say that there was a need for progress.

“Issues of arts and culture are very critical to the development of the country. Creative minds need to be supported. They need to have a market, there is a need to have a strategic plan which must be followed but there has to be impact,” Usi said.

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