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UK starts exchange programme for artists

Visual artists in Uganda usually find it hard to access a wider market.

Most times when they are done creating their works, it is exhibited in galleries that attract usually foreigners and a few sophisticated Ugandans. And the circle continues every year. However, this may change following the launching of a partnership between British Council and 32 Degrees East Arts Trust, a centre for creation and exploration of contemporary

Ugandan art based in Kansanga. The partnership launched last Thursday will see resident artists at the centre travel to other arts organizations: Nairobi’s Kouna Trust and Addis Ababa’s Alle

School of Fine Art and Design. In the same way, artists from Kenya and Ethiopia will also be coming to 32 Degrees East. In fact, as the project was launched in Uganda, Kenya’s Jackie Karuti was already in Uganda for her programme.

Denis Mubiru, one of the resident artists with the centre, is optimistic that this will create more opportunities for them to network, reach out to a wider market and get exposed.

The first Ugandan beneficiary is eco-artist and singer Sandra Suubi, who will be travelling to Nairobi where she will be a resident at the Kouna Trust for six weeks. She says that the exchange programme is an opportunity for her to gauge her works in a different environment.

“Most times, we may not think out of the boundaries, but with such exchanges, you get to see how people in other societies understand your work and probably learn from them,” Suubi says.

Yvonnie Waigo, the 32 Degrees East Arts Trust manager, notes that it’s a good platform for the artists, and an opportunity to exchange knowledge. She also reveals that much as the programme is for resident artists, it will be opened up for non- residents.

The arts trust has in the past played host to different art forms such as poetry , spoken word. It played a major role in organizing the debut Kampala Contemporary Art Festival in 2014.

British Council Uganda’s country director Peter Brown notes that the movement of artists will lead to new ideas, concepts, and it will impact the work being produced as well as create a new understanding between the East African region and the British cultural producers.

At the launch, different artists showcased. They included: Ife Piankhi, a singer and poet, Mubiru, a painter and installation artist, Karuti and Rehema Nsanyiwa.

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