A Working Group was formed on 14 November 2022 at the culmination of a one-day Policy & Media Workshop in Maseru. Composed of over 30 representatives of educational, cultural and arts organisations and institutions, musicians, performers, and the media, as well as the Department of Arts & Culture, Lesotho Copyright Society of Authors and Artists (LESCOSAA), the UNESCO National Commission, and the National Curriculum Development Centre, the Working Group is committed to raising the profile and capacity of this vital sectoral cluster in Lesotho in terms of strengthening a positive national identity and brand footprint, nurturing local talent and creativity, growing an ecosystem to support creativity and entrepreneurship, and improving livelihoods.
The Policy & Media Workshop was called as part of the Sound Connects Fund Project entitled ‘Re Appropriating Lesotho’s Cultural Heritage Through New Media’, funded by the European Union and Goethe Institute through the Music In Africa Foundation. The Project, awarded to Morija Museum & Archives and its sister institution the Morija Arts Centre, seeks to revitalize the making and playing of Lesotho’s indigenous musical instruments, especially lesiba, ‘mamokhorong, setolo-tolo, lekope, mokhope, thomo and sekebeku, raise the profile of this type of musical expression, and promote collaboration with other musical genres.
Through the Lesotho College of Education, and the Morija Arts Centre, training has been offered to music lecturers, pre-service teacher trainees, musicians and artists, in the hope that the mastery of these instruments will be perpetuated, leading to the main-streaming of this cultural and spiritual tradition, as well as adaptation and innovation. Other components of the Project include a Research Paper, Educational Workbook, Digital Resource Library, a 20-minute Animation and the Workshop. These components will need to be built upon in order to create momentum and sustainability beyond the project cycle.
The Policy & Media Workshop, featuring presentations by a range of highly knowledgeable resource persons, resulted in the formulation of a list of priority areas to be urgently addressed, not only for the revitalization of indigenous instruments, but for the broader sectoral cluster if at all it is to make a greater impact. The Working Group will work closely with all government agencies, departments, the private sector and other relevant parties to address a range of policy areas, among the most important of which are the following seven priorities:
• Greater engagement between the arts, culture and creative sector with local media, and a nationally-agreed minimum threshold (e.g. 60%) of content to be implemented in the local media in terms of indigenous music, drama, film, fashion, poetry and other creative genres;
• Actualisation of a formal mechanism to recognise prior learning in the arts / culture, and provision of greater opportunities in formal and non-formal education to pursue the arts, creativity and entrepreneurship;
• Capacitation of sector members in the formulation of project proposals, budgeting, accounting skills, and monitoring and evaluation methodologies;
• A regular calendar of events that is well publicised and funded in the Arts, Culture and Creative Sector, including competitions;
• Provision of a national business incubation and start up financing facility for Cultural & Creative Industries (CCI), an open-source national statistical register relevant to CCI as well as a Quality Assurance Agency;
• A legally-recognised Arts Council which, among others, will work closely with the Lesotho Revenue Service to provide tax rebates to companies that invest in the Arts, CCI, and related Educational initiatives, both formal and non-formal, including Research initiatives; and
• A user-friendly, low cost and compliant digital payment system for the sale of goods and services whether outside or inside the Rand Monetary Area.
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