— It’s a new year, and the big question: Is Africa ready to embrace the arts?
And it’s a question the continent has yet to grapple with.
“I think that people around the world have been looking for a lot of time for a better chance at life, for a more sustainable future,” said Dr. Mark H. Nisbet, chairman of the African Academy of Arts and Sciences and a professor at Harvard University.
Nisbet is the author of “An Artist’s Journey.”
Africa is the only continent without a single national museum or art gallery.
The continent has a total population of roughly 7.3 billion people, and it lacks a single major art museum.
For the past decade, African governments have been grappling with the challenges of preserving and promoting the arts in the face of a massive increase in inequality and the emergence of a powerful black middle class.
Last year, the African Union announced it would cut off aid to developing countries that did not establish national museums.
Its latest proposal is the creation of a global museum network with a budget of $400 million and an annual budget of about $20 billion, according to a report by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The initiative is part of a larger global push to increase investment in the arts and cultural institutions, especially in developing countries, which rely heavily on international funding.
But the continent’s museums are in dire need of a boost, according and experts.
Some African countries have closed museums altogether, and in Nigeria, the country that once had one of Africa’s biggest art galleries, the museum has closed its doors for more than a decade.
Africans have been struggling to find a space to display their work.
Even as Africa’s economy is on the rise, there is a lack of space for artists to showcase their work, said Dr, John T. Hodge, chairman and chief executive of the New York-based Art Center of the Americas, a nonprofit arts organization.
There is an absence of facilities in African countries to house the artists, said Hodge.
To make matters worse, many African nations have failed to implement the 2020 Vision 2030, which calls for the establishment of an African National Museum, an art gallery and a cultural center, as well as to increase the number of art museums in the continent.
In Africa, the number and size of museums has been declining, even as the number, size and diversity of museums across the continent have increased.
The problem is compounded by a lack on the part of some African governments, said Nisbit.
One of the reasons why the art community is not performing as well is that the art market is shrinking,” he said.
When African governments and museums fail to provide the infrastructure needed to support artists, the result is that artists are not performing.
Hodge said it is critical that African governments take the time to plan for the future of African art, to ensure that African art is in demand, and to ensure its quality.
What’s in store for Africa in 2020?
The Africa Art Forum, a global forum, is holding its fourth annual meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this week.
It’s the first gathering of the continent since the United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted its final report on African cultural rights in 2014.
The report warned that “the art market remains in an unsustainable state.”
In 2015, the World Bank forecast that the African art market will shrink by at least 1.6 percent this year.
And in 2019, the United Nation’s cultural agency said the number was likely to fall by 5 percent.
Meanwhile, in 2017, the government of South Africa announced it was closing its only art museum in the country.
And there are signs that the government may be considering closing the National Gallery in Nsako in Johannesburg, the most popular art museum of the city.
South Africa is also considering closing its national museum, the National Museum in Gauteng, a national museum in Natal, a UNESCO world heritage site in Johannesberg and a national archive in Pretoria.
So, in the coming months, what does Africa have in store?
Then there is the question of the future, said Lachace, who has been in Africa for more then 40 years.””
There is no doubt that the problems stem from the inability of the government and the institutions to address these issues and to implement their vision,” he added.
Then there is the question of the future, said Lachace, who has been in Africa for more then 40 years.
“When I started this conference 20 years ago, we were talking about a 20-year vision,” Lachacy said.
“The fact that we have this conference today, 20 years later, is very encouraging.”
But there is also a big challenge ahead.