Festivals as instruments to enhance local heritage: two case studies in Africa
“The former capital of the ancient Bambara kingdom from the mid-seventeenth century, Segou lies along the Niger River, 240 km away from Bamako. Its urban heritage is characterized by vernacular Sudanese architecture in red terracotta and colonial buildings. With an estimated population of 163,000 inhabitants, Segou’s development indicators are low compared to the rest of the country, with an estimated 65% poverty rate against 49% nationwide. Yet, the city has an interesting development potential due to its geographic location, its economic base and its outstanding urban heritage, history and cultural vitality. With a view to harnessing these assets, a collective of local entrepreneurs working through the Foundation Festival on the Niger launched the Festival sur le Niger in 2005. Each year, the festival gathers national and international artists and musicians and showcases local cultural industries. Conferences and workshops reflect cultural and development issues, while the artisans and agricultural fair allows local producers to reach new markets. With around 30,000 visitors per year on average, the festival has been a major catalyst for the local economy and has structured the arts and crafts and agricultural sectors. Over 150 local enterprises are involved, contributing to 140 direct and 2,000 indirect jobs. The tourism sector has boomed, increasing ten-fold between 2005 and 2010, which has fostered the gradual upgrading of tourist infrastructure.”
UNESCO report on Culture and Sustainable Urban Development, p.37“The Chale Wote Street Art Festival was initiated by cultural practitioners in the Jamestown neighbourhood, located in Ga Mashie, an early fishing settlement and former colonial quarter now categorized as a slum. Organized over two days, it brings together a wide range of traditional and contemporary cultural practices in public spaces. National and international artists are invited to create murals, installations and performances by drawing upon local culture. The festival brings art into democratic, equitable and accessible areas, such as streets, pavements, lanes, car parks or unused buildings. The festival drew 20,000 people in 2015 and helped transform the perception of these areas into a community full of cultural heritage and artistic potential.”
Cultural Heritage and the City
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