Cultural institutions like The Africa Centre are undeniably important, yet there's no consensus on how to sustain them for future generations. While many UK arts organisations default to becoming a portfolio organisation of the largest funder, this reliance on one main source of core funding makes them vulnerable to the whims and caprices of a funder that is itself constantly buffeted by powerful headwinds from the government of the day.

In the past year, The Africa Centre has reinforced its role as a major cultural institution through various activities: hosting diplomats, promoting African cuisine and creativity, showcasing under-represented artists, facilitating intercultural exchanges, discussing Diaspora investment, enhancing educational experiences, and celebrating older people's contributions. We've curated exhibitions to foster community harmony and mobilized communities for political participation.

We take pride in our diverse programs, attracting both long-time supporters and younger generations. However, we face sector-wide challenges like economic barriers to participation, adopting new technologies while protecting creatives' rights, and navigating contradictory funding mores, all complicating financial sustainability.

The solution may lie in community self-sustaining models, as advocated by Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois over 100 years ago. Separately, they emphasised the need for community self-sustaining models as a vital way to establish the enduring institutions which serve as the vehicle for preservation of a people’s cultural heritage and future prosperity. If an organization belongs to the community, the community should invest in its sustainability.

To ensure that we have a solid nexus with the various African Diaspora communities in the UK, and across the continent, we've established a Community Forum of UK stakeholders and created a network of Affiliate Organizations across Africa.

While everyone cannot be on the Community Forum, everyone can send us their views – tell us what you want your Africa Centre to be. And everyone can make a small monthly contribution as a gesture of support to help us build robust financial sustainability and the continuation of our mission for the next 60 years and beyond. We are asking that you please contribute to our Friends OF The Africa Centre scheme and share this widely. What do you get for this? A sense of belonging and the knowledge that you are responsible for the preservation of a unique institution where all Africa is always seen and the excellence of Africa is always celebrated. Our children will thank us for this one day – as I thank you now.

Have a lovely month!

Olu Alake

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER


COMING UP

  • Next week (June 26 – 28) is the 2024 edition of the largest AfroBeats festival in the world, AfroNation. Courtesy of Smade Entertainment, we have 2 Golden Circle tickets to be won in an online auction. The two highest bidders we receive by close of play on Thursday 20th June will be the proud recipients of these special tickets. (The tickets have a face value of £900 each and consist of Golden Circle access i.e. Be within arms’ reach of the artists, Access to the festival VIP area and private beach, Seated restaurant with table service, VIP bars with faster service, Priority festival entry & wristband exchange, An Item of exclusive Afro Nation merchandise, Priority access to book a table on the Sky Terrace, Leave and re-enter the festival at any time, Luxury serviced toilets and Three day access to the main festival site. Please note: flight and accommodation are not included.) Please complete the auction form here.  Deadline: 12 midnight on Thursday 20th June 2024.

 

  • This week, we welcome Chef Miatta Marke of Cole Street Restaurant to The Africa Centre! Cole Street will be onsite from 19th June to 24th August. online booking for the restaurant pop-up is now available. In Miatta’s words:“Cole Street will be offering Sierra Leonean fusion containing historical influences of West Africa's food culture and how it travelled, adapted and returned home over the past 400 years”. If you would like to find out more about Miatta and her work, she has featured in BBC and CNN reports and was recently named by National Geographic in their list of 21 “Culinary Gems” to visit in 2024. We are honoured to have her!

  • June 22 – Blending with Arts at The Africa Centre: Join us for an immersive online exhibition showcasing the vibrant world of African art. This captivating digital journey highlights the works of Misoko, a talented emerging Congolese artist.

 

  • June 23: Blending With Arts presents: Beyond the Frame! An unforgettable in-person event where we celebrate the fusion of art forms. Immerse yourself in a vibrant showcase of artwork, both physical and digital, by our talented emerging artists. This event is a unique opportunity to experience the magic of art in all its forms.

  • June 25 – July 2nd: Almas Art Foundation presents Altering Memories, an exhibition by Ermias Ekube (Eritrea), which brings together works from his career spanning multiple decades and geographical displacements from Addis Ababa to Asmara, Nairobi and Sweden, where he currently lives and works

 

  • Next month, the first African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, Professor Wole Soyinka, is turning 90 years old. Later in the week, Watch out for details of our upcoming programme with the Wole Soyinka Institute for Cultural Exchange in Nigeria to celebrate this seminal occasion.

 

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