Sven Kacirek: Kenya needs more cultural centres
German experimental musician and producer Sven Kacirek has challenged the Kenyan Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts to invest in local talent by setting up small cultural centres across the country.
Kacirek, who is in Kenya to record an album with Afro-fusion artist Olith Ratego, told Music In Africa that the country was in need of more social spaces to enable creatives to explore and experiment among themselves.
“This is one of the ways being used by the German government to promote local talent,” he said. “Kenya is divided into 47 regions. So if each of those invested in their own cultural centre, it would be much easier to identify and nurture talent. This will eventually make it possible to organise concerts, workshops and plays for the locals.”
Kacirek said if well managed, the centres could be transformed into participatory spaces where the public could appreciate different genres of music.
“This is happening in Europe. The sad thing is that it’s almost impossible for Kenyan artists not doing popular music to perform in Nairobi because venues and festivals are not too interested in these genres. I do not mean the art space in Germany is 100% great, but compared to Kenya it is much better. Small towns are being funded by local government and Goethe-Institut to produce their own festivals and concerts.”
He said if the government offered support in terms of infrastructure and funding, many musicians would be exposed to opportunities around the world.
“The Kenyan government should realise that Kenyan music, apart from commercial pop music, has value not only in Kenya but throughout the world. An example is musician Ogoya Nengo, whom I have also worked with on the Rangala album released in 2014 under Honest Jon's a record label in London. Since the she has travelled to France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, and when she gets onstage people dance and love her, but in Nairobi most people don’t know her, which is strange.”
Kacirek said interacting with artists during his one-month stay in Kenya had painted a clear picture of the challenges being faced by traditional or contemporary artists outside the capital. But he believes there is still hope for musicians exploring genres other than pop.
“The ministry needs to be in synch with the dynamics of the scene and art spaces. Perhaps those in charge have no interest in interacting with key industry players. Although the situation is pretty much the same in Germany, we have people and institutions in between that facilitate communication between politicians and artists.”
“So this is an element that is missing in Kenya because you have places like the Kenya Cultural Centre, which are not so well connected to the cultural scene. And I know that artists in Nairobi have to pay to stage performances at the cultural centre. Ideally it should be the centre organising events and paying artists to perform.”
Kacirek said his collaborative album with Ratego would be out early next year.
© Music in Africa