Late last year, Visiting Arts along with the Africa Center and the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism for Trinidad and Tobago conducted a survey of the regions where we are working for our project Culture Works Connections. Below we have a shared a summary of key results from respondents across sub-saharan Africa and Trinidad and Tobago. Our project seeks to create more sustainable income for artists and creative businesses through linking them to international markets and networks, to find producers, festivals and curators outside of their home country to create a wider distribution for their work. This survey answered questions such as:
- What financial support does the sector currently receive? What are the sources of revenue?
- Are artists supporting their work with other part time work?
- How does the cultural sector work and network online? Through social networks or smartphones? How much time is spent working online professionally?
- Where do current audiences come from – local, national, international? Are they paying audiences or is work shared for free or through educational programmes?
- What is the current level of international work? What are the obstacles and successes of international work?
- What are future goals and interests in international work?
The African survey showed a higher percentage of respondents self-funding their own work or funding through other personal income sources (“other” – 36%) and their activities were more focused on community outreach and education. Sole traders are more likely to work part-time than full-time. Social networking sites, according to respondents, are more used for professional networking, and they are more likely to be used to look for funding than in Africa. In terms of audiences, African respondents felt that their audiences were equally “global” as well as “local” and most public events are offered for free (69%). Looking towards international work, they are more interested in projects focusing on artistic development as well as education and marketing/showcasing.
The Trinidad & Tobago survey showed a much higher percentage of income from goods and services, making the sector more commercially focused with performance the primary activity followed by education. Sole traders are more likely to work full-time (57%). Social networking sites are mostly used to promote themselves and their work (77%) and also professional networking. In terms of audiences, Trinidad & Tobago respondents have a much higher proportion of “local” audiences (75%) and still a high number of free events but also ticketed events were significant (43%). For international projects they are most interested in marketing & showcasing their work followed by artistic development.
Both surveys showed that introductions through friends or colleagues were the most common way of meeting international partners, with African respondents more commonly using conferences or showcases as well (58%). The biggest obstacle for both in developing international work is unsurprisingly finding funding. Also mentioned as obstacles were inequalities in the financial relationship, changes in personnel and difficulty getting visas or government permissions. Both also identified skills gaps around marketing & PR, and sustainability as barriers to international working. Finally there is a high level of interest in searchable databases of international partners (Trinidad & Tobago) and information about other organisations working internationally (Africa) to help the cultural sector expand towards international projects.
The results will inform our training programme as well as the development of World Cultures Connect, our international networking site for the cultural sector, which will also be used to make further connections for the artists in the programme.
Download the summary reports below for key results of the survey.
Culture Works Connections is supported with the financial contribution of the European Union and the assistance of the ACP Group of States.