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COVID 19 and the Creative Sector

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) recently introduced a regulation that would require all persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services to obtain authorisation from the regulator before providing such services to the public.  

The regulation affects blogs, online television, online radios, online newspapers, audio over IP, Internet Protocol TV, Video on Demand, Digital Audio radios and televisions, internet and web radio and internet and web television.This obviously dents the freedom for creatives to produce content and publish it. In fact most creatives are figuring out a way to exist without distribution, I wonder what other creatives who rely on the presence of audiences are doing. 

On a recent trip down to Fort Portal, we were entertained by DJ KasBabys’ Kidepo Mix that kicks off with his signature call out. For a brief period, we reminisced about pre-COVID days at Pana. That conversation quickly fizzled off. I reached out to Enock Ikiriza, Team Lead at The Usual Suspects, a creative agency striving to transform and influence culture through talent management, public relations, and production. Enock is the author of an article I came across that resonates with creatives.  

Across the world, the creative industry is profitable. In Britain, the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) adds 13 Million Pounds to the GDP of the country every hour! Once again I was reminded of why we need you; the creative, the artisan, the artist, and the maker to continue making. 

Eugene of the MoTIVTribe.

On Covid19 & the Arts by Ikiriza Kiremire Enock

I assume everyone is as tired as I am of the word COVID-19, SOPs, social distancing, and all accompanying hullabaloo. It’s been a long, long last few months especially for people involved in the arts and creative community here in Uganda. With livelihood and income avenues having been stripped away or curtailed and the evident focus on what are considered ‘essential’ services, it has been a tough blow.

‘Scientists seem to ’ have become the focus. It would appear that the Arts and Culture have been relegated to the proverbial ‘Boys-Quarter’ as hobbies and the work of part-timers, jokers, etc. Whereas this seems to have been the underlying vibe from society in Uganda from as far back as I can recall; COVID has likely pronounced it even more than ever before. The Scientists are the serious people doing important work for our survival whereas the artists…well, anyone can sing and dance or draw pictures or run. It’s all leisure and fun so it can wait till later. Even the arts courses were labeled very unflattering names like Musilu Ddala Ddala [MDD], Bachelor of Being Around [BBA], etc. 

Now, take a few minutes and imagine a society without culture. I am not just talking about one that has lost its own culture and adapted one that is foreign. I am talking about one that has taken culture and the arts out of the equation. A world with No music. No color or Art. No fashion. No poetry or expression. No beauty. No literature or Film. Imagine what then happens to that society or community.

Do not get me wrong, this is not just a plea for acceptance from society or a cry for help or a handout from the government [Justified as this might be]. This is actually a rallying call to action creatives and artisans. To realize how important and valuable they are to not just holding society together but making it a society in the first place. To realize that while science might keep us alive, it is the arts that give us a reason to want to be alive in the first place.  It is art that captures the fabric of our existence and the memories of what makes us human.

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So, during these  difficult times, not just for the artists but for everyone; during this time when unfair judgments seem to be passed on the regular in the misguided attempt to regulate the creative sphere [which in itself is such an oxymoron], in this time when support and investment from the corporate and government sector has stalled as entities gauge the situation ‘Post-COVID’ period, creative voices  need to rise.

I challenge creatives and artists to earn their names as ‘creatives’. It is in times like this that true creativity must be displayed; fueled not just by the love of applause and recognition but true passion. Not just by the need to survive and make ends meet but also a clear recognition of the responsibility that lies on your shoulders to keep society alive. Let us lend voice to expression, emotion, and ideas that collectively make us a human society. That is what would differentiate us from Robots.

To all creatives, artists, musicians, painters, playwrights, actors, comedians, designers, writers and storytellers, photographers and filmmakers. We need you. Our societies and communities need you to remind us of what it means to live, to be human, to love, and to cry.  To give voice to our emotions, express our thoughts and feelings. To make memories and to remind us of our values but also of what is valuable.

It is not an easy job even when it often seems so to the outsider. It is long sleepless nights. It is the process of pouring your heart and soul into something that might never even see the light of day. It is pulling the inexplicable from the imagination and bringing it to life without formulas because it has never been done before. It is an often seemingly thankless job.  We can not surely give up on that.

We should not underestimate the importance and responsibility that lies on our shoulders. We create society and shape culture. It is truly magic. And not everyone can do it. The science will come later to explain how and put structures and formulas to recreate and replicate it. You are Ground Zero. The genesis, the creator and it is in difficult times like these that we will be able to create something from nothing. To look at a blank canvas and create magic; not just google it or copy-paste.  Let’s remind us of who we are and continue inspiring us to what we can be.

#Creative #OutsideTheBox #Challenge #CovidEffects

MoTIVATED Impact Press Release

MoTIV Creations Ltd. launches MoTIVATED Impact to promote locabrands  

MoTIV Creations Ltd. has launched MoTIVATED Impact, an initiative aimed at supporting Ugandan businesses through promoting local sourcing by corporate companies under  the theme ‘Creating sustainable impact through applied technology hubs’. 

MoTIV Creations Ltd. provides an opportunity for makers to have access to high quality innovative machinery, training, and a marketplace. 

During the MoTIVATED Impact Launch on Tuesday, the MoTIV Team Lead CK Japheth stated that Uganda is brewing with a lot of untapped talent that can be capitalised to create job opportunities and a thriving economy.  

“Creative entrepreneurs have the opportunity to scale their businesses to meet demand for local and international markets through manufacturing. However, for this to happen we have a responsibility to create an enabling ecosystem that will favor makers and artisans right from the idea stage through production and on to the market. Solutions that foster collaboration, impact and sustainability such as MoTIV should be our new normal with support from Partners.”  

According to a 2018 report by UNESCO, the creative economy is made up of cultural and creative industry sectors that generate annual revenues of US$2,250 billion and global exports of over US$250 billion. According to recent forecasts, these sectors will represent around 10% of global GDP in the years to come. The cultural and creative industries currently provide nearly 30 million jobs worldwide and employ more people aged 15−29 than any other sector. Nearly half of the people working in the cultural and creative industries are women, opening up new opportunities to address gender inequalities.  

“This shows that there is potential within this sector and MoTIV is working diligently to unlock and enable this potential in Uganda. We consider women important in unlocking this potential through the pillars they are ably participating in such as metal and woodwork.” 

CK added that ‘MoTIV has built a unique network of Ugandan creative entrepreneurs that produce high quality and unique products across the country. Through MoTIVATED Impact we leverage our unique network to deliver products to corporate organisations.’ 

During a panel discussion, that included Marci Onsinyo, Evelyn Zalwango from Fundi Women and Collin Mugisha from American Towers (ATC) one of the challenges noted within the creative sector   is the ability to produce at scale due to the capital intensive resources needed and the support system to access market and funding. 

MoTIV has provided a holistic solution for this through the machinery and human resources provided. Creatives now have the opportunity to produce at scale and corporates can now locally source and place large orders because small brands will be able to produce larger quantities. 

Another challenge mentioned by the panelists was the  perception that Ugandan made products and materials are not of good quality citing  a need for mindset shift. “Materials indeginous to Uganda such as barkcloth are being used abroad in countries such as Germany and the US and we need to start appreciating and using what we have locally in  supporting and enabling the ecosystem.” said Marci Onsinyo.

Nicholas Spencer, the Marketplace Lead at MoTIV noted ‘Uganda’s population is dominated by the youth who make up to  75% in an economy that is experiencing scarcity of jobs.  “A provision of skilling and manufacturing capacity to the creative industry has the ability to solve the unemployment problem with  the capability to meet demand for both local and international markets. Corporate companies need to support Ugandan business to not only positively impact communities but also foster economic growth.’     

MoTIV has five pillars which include textile, wood & metal, media, kitchen station and co-working space providing an opportunity to access tools, training, a tribe and a marketplace where brands sell their products. 

For more information, visit the MoTIV website: motivug.org or call Caroline Owomuhangi on +256 775915089

For purchasing from Ugandan brands visit our shop website: shop.motivug.org

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Conciousness, Inner Fundamentals Exhibition: Media Brief

MoTIV is East Africa’s biggest makerspace with the goal to create a sustainable ecosystem for artisans and makers in the creative space offering access to machinery, training, and a marketplace. MoTIV strongly believes that collaboration among a community of like minded creatives can deliver sustainability in an impactful way while adding to social economic growth of our country. 

The Consciousness, Inner Fundamentals exhibition will explore the doctrine that all matter has a mental aspect while questioning the relationship between an individual, nature and reality. It questions our consciousness of the effects that we as a species have caused on nature, ourselves and reality due to our thirst for discovery and progress. The exhibition is open to the public until February 2020. 

Key objectives of the Art exhibition

  • Skill artists to create value addition to their final products  
  • Educate artists on how to identify opportunities within the local and global industry 
  • Foster collaboration between artists

MoTIV had a public opening ceremony for the exhibition on 20/Dec/2020 which was a promotion and celebration of Ugandan art with performances from The Body of Brian, 1Der Jr. and a fashion showcase by Bonera Brand. In February 2021, there will also be talks on illustration practices, techniques and storytelling by Kwizera. Other talks will include Mental Health, managing stress, anxiety and attaining a mental balance for creatives by Conquer Uganda. Kuonyesha Grant will also have a talk on how artists can identify opportunities within the creative industry and the importance of collaborative strategy. Additionally Kwizera will have a practical session on how visual artists can add value to their art through framing, installation and woodwork. 

Vocational Schools Op-ed

The Daily Monitor wrote an article stating that the government under the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) is to start 78 vocational courses for O-Level students such as weaving, graphic design, decoration, ceramics among others. These courses fall under Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). CCI refers to the creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs. They include a set of knowledge base activities that produce tangible goods and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives. CCI products and services range from publishing, music, film and design. Students will receive certification in line with the Uganda Vocational Qualification Frames (UVQF). 

UNESCO has reported that CCI globally generates USD 2,250 billion and employs 30 million people worldwide indicating that this sector is key to economies. This is of great significance as CCI can not only allow one to ‘earn a living’ but also create sustainable income generation and businesses that will substantially impact the economy. CCI also employs more youth aged 15-20 years compared to any other age groups. Therefore, CCI should be highly regarded. More than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30 with high levels of unemployment and, to combat this, the vocational studies initiative hopes to skill youths and provide channels for employment. 

However, even with this recent declaration by the government, the sector has generally been overlooked. For example, there is a gap in research on the economic impact of CCI and the vocational sector in Uganda. This poses a challenge as to whether current technologies and structures being used are effective and how to strategically create a path for economic growth and sustainability. It also poses a challenge for stakeholders that could potentially invest in the sector. More needs to be done than only students having an option to study one vocational occupation. The sector needs to be streamlined so that institutions have quality equipment and trainers; training that fosters business acumen with finance, management, and strategic development in line with CCI; and funding opportunities that promote the sector and create linkages with global markets.

Nonetheless, the government taking this step to include vocational training in the curriculum is progressive. There is a company called MoTIV Creations Uganda, in partnership with The Innovation Village, delivering programs under the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works initiative that is streamlining CCI and creating opportunities and solutions. MoTIV has five pillars that include: textile, wood and metal, media, kitchen and co-working space to upscale businesses for local and international markets. MoTIV has developed an accelerator program where brands are assisted with capital, design, product development, training, production, and business development support to create sustainable businesses. Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, MoTIV developed and built a PPE factory to make face masks employing over 140 young individuals. The company also has an annual competition targeted to visual artists to come up with a concept for a mural. The winner gets cash and free studio space. This is one of the ways MoTIV supports the creative industry who are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

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Fiber to Fabric Textile Exhibition

About MoTIV

MoTIV creates a space where creative entrepreneurs can refine and scale their business to meet demand for local and international markets. We provide a space in which makers have access to high quality innovative machinery, training and can collaborate and inspire each other. 

We also provide solutions that are holistic, sustainable, ethical and impactful. The categories in which we create include wood & metal work, textile, kitchen station, media and co-working space. In addition, we aim to employ more than 70% women within our organisation. 

MoTIV is having a textile exhibition called Fiber to Fabric that is running until 18th December 2020 at the MoTIV offices located at Old Portbell Road, Kampala. The exhibition explores the relationships between the different elements of Uganda’s design ecosystem with focus on the current situation within the textile industry, the challenges and the solutions. The exhibit will offer a vision of what Uganda can do with its abundance of natural resources, while inspiring conservation of indigenious flora & fauna. This exhibit aims to present a future for Ugandan made products by breaking the stereotype that ‘Ugandan products are not of quality or unique’ and promot Buy Uganda Build Uganda. In addition the exhibit will investigate where Ugandan raw materials are used globally, and the ethics of these supply chains. 

Textile Industry Background in Uganda

A report by the Ministry of Trade in 2019 stated that Uganda is a cotton producing country that has recorded an annual production of 254,000 bales as the highest output in the last five years, with the potential of producing 1,000,000 bales at full employment level. 

However over 90% of the lint produced in Uganda is exported at a low price of less than US$ 1 per Kilo, resulting into loss of value to Uganda since conversion of such lint translates into 8-10 fold growth in value when conventional cotton is processed fully into garments while for the case of organic cotton the value can grow to 15 fold. 

Objectives of the Fiber to Fabric Textile Exhibition 

  • Showcase opportunities within the textile industry
  • Promote use of indiginous materials
  • Encourage demand of local materials

List of Exhibitors

  • Gloria Wavamuno
  • Jose Hendo
  • Xenson Nja
  • Charles Kamya
  • Sana Gateja
  • Obelisk
  • Green Afrika
  • Nina Mirembe
  • Textfad
  • Ouroots
  • Stella Lukwago