Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) is working on “CONNECTIONS AFRICA” the go-to online platform for promoters on the African continent. The platform will create a viable touring circuit in the continent for the first time by connecting promoters, artists, and booking agents to their best potential regional partners and collaborators.
By CCA PR
Connect Africa is a novel pan-continental event mapping interface and networking platform designed exclusively for the African music sector by Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) and its partners. Taking festivals as its starting point, the online service promises to map the complex live-events ecosystem on the continent and deliver a centralized communication platform to facilitate collaboration between promoters and other industry professionals.
By connecting professionals on a macro-level, we pave the way to sustainable live-music touring on the continent for the first time.”CCA’s co-founder, Katherine McVicker.
Users of the site will be able to identify potential booking opportunities in their region, give and receive vetted industry recommendations, discuss pertinent issues, and access mentorship opportunities and mutual sources of funding. The platform incorporates functionalities often found in popular dating sites, social networks, and vacation rental marketplaces to create the environment necessary for users to network with one another, recognize potential collaborators, and begin to build compatible and symbiotic partnerships in the live music scene on the continent.
Connect Africa is a joint venture of Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) and Zimbabwe based cultural arts organization, Jibilika Dance Trust, supported in part by the Public Affairs Sector of the US Embassy in Zimbabwe (Harare) through the Embassy’s Small Grants Program. The platform is planned to debut in May 2021 at CCA’s first annual conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Connect Africa project is led by the CCA’s Research and Development Working Group, a team of seasoned industry experts including Sphe Mbhele (The Music Imbizo Conference), Plot Mhako (Jibilika Dance Trust and EarGROUND Radio), Dudu Sarr (Manager to Youssou Ndour), and Ignacio Priego(Concerts SA).
Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) network members:
Dudu Sarr, manager to Senegalese Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and activist, Youssou Ndour, sees his involvement in developing the platform as an investment into the future of African music:
Africa is a creative and cultural volcano which is just about to erupt. All studies are pointing to the fact that it is one of the most promising and developing music markets in the world. Connect Africa is designed to work like a compass that points to what’s happening on the continent in terms of live-music. The work that CCA is doing will connect all the cultural dots for people to invest in doing work on the African continent.”– Dudu Sarr
By centralizing communication within the platform, informed collaboration and planning between promoters in the different countries promises to be easier than ever. For the first time, festival directors will be able to easily identify artists performing in their region and catch them on their tour route. “We want to make ‘if only I had known’ a thing of the past”, explains Alice Feldman, the team’s project manager.
Using the platform’s centralized calendar, festivals and events booked on the same day and missed opportunities to extend an artist’s tour would no longer be an issue. A database directory of vetted industry contacts, including production specialists, publicists, agents, and marketing consultants is also in development with the help of Music in Africa Foundation (MIAF).
Despite the violent halt that COVID-19 has brought to live touring worldwide, live music was and continues to be the bread-and-butter for most African musicians and professionals.
For too many decades, African musicians have been forced to tour in the Global North to have profitable tours and earn reasonable performance fees. The emergence and stable growth of a middle class in many African countries offers new opportunities for intra-African touring. But African musicians and other industry professionals often find enormous challenges when trying to network and establish meaningful partnerships beyond their borders.”– Ignacio Priego (of Concerts SA), (Connect Africa Team Member, CCA)
By virtually connecting artists and promoters, the platform aims to break down many of the major structural barriers and physical obstacles that have prevented professionals in the African live-music circuit from collaborating on tours together.
The initiative will have a far reaching impact in professionalising the African music industry and in building bridges with the music scene overseas”,Plot Mhako, founder and director of Jibilika Dance Trust.
As part of CCA’s commitment to encouraging equity, diversity, and inclusion in the African music sector, Connect Africa will also showcase experienced successful female entrepreneurs in the industry and connect them with younger women to whom they can be mentors, thereby empowering the new generation of women to be leading change-makers in the industry.
The CCA is also in the process of planning the CCA: Women in Arts Summit, a three-day conference showcasing female achievements in the cultural arts and their changing roles in the African music sector. The event is slated for 19-21 May, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In addition, the network plans to continue its Sounds from Africa virtual concert series in January 2021. The series is the first regular live stream concert series with a pan-continental scope to emerge from the African continent.
First envisioned in June as a response to the COVID 19 crisis, CCA partners with prominent cultural arts organizations in order to offer a diverse and culturally rich array of musical stylings and genres from across 17 African countries to new audiences around the world.
About the Partners
Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) was created in April 2019 as a network to facilitate communication between cultural stakeholders across the African continent. The network is a diverse continent-wide association of highly established music promoters, festival directors, artist managers, producers, and other professionals in arts administration in nearly every major region of Africa. Through this outreach, members create a broad network of resources, knowledge, and collective purpose to expand opportunities for cultural enrichment into regions and communities in Africa. The mission of the network is to provide professional development in the music and arts industries, cross-cultural exchange, educational initiatives, and economic development through culture.
US Embassy Harare, PAS
The Public Affairs Section manages the American Embassy’s media, cultural and educational programs. Our mission is to “tell America’s story to the world” by sharing information, experiences and ideas. The Public Affairs Section administers a variety of educational exchange programs, including the Fulbright program.
Jibilika Dance Trust
Jibilika is a Non-Profit Organization that promotes various elements of youth culture for social engagement, economic empowerment and youth development founded in 2007 in Zimbabwe. Jibilika has been empowering the voices of young people through innovative Hip Hop programming, mentorship, and volunteering in schools, communities, and works on strategies and training to professionalize young upcoming artists.
Music Works International
Music Works International is an industry leader in the development of jazz, world, blues, and roots touring artists. Founded by a leader in the international touring industry, Katherine McVicker, MWI collaborates with the world’s finest musicians, promoters, and venues to develop tours that expand audiences, artists, and markets through continued expansion into new territories, and cultural partnerships. MWI’s roster of global touring artists includes Richard Bona, Joshua Redman, Jon Cleary, David Sanborn, Branford Marsalis, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Antonio Sanchez, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves, Vijay Iyer, Stacey Kent, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Bokanté.
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