BEST PRACTICE OF ACPCULTURES+: SOUTH PLANET

BEST PRACTICE OF ACPCULTURES+: SOUTH PLANET

A participatory website contributing to the structuration of cultural industries in 22 ACP countries.

The Southplanet website, set up by Africultures, accessed over the last three years to a referent dimension, as for the amount of data and for its reputation level.

Project objectives

The objective of the Southplanet project was to provide for each concerned country a cultural portal for promotion and a networking policy derived from a common international interface.

Several specific objectives accompanied this general objective: strengthening the promotion of cultural products, consolidating professional networks, structuring and developing the cultural information in ACP countries, boosting the role of diffusion of festivals or facilitating the elaboration of cultural policies by the decision makers of the concerned countries.

In nearly 3 years of implementation, 22 national portals have been created, corresponding to the 22 countries in the project.

Each portal has several features.

Websites dedicated to artists or artistic works

These kits have been developed and posted online on the "my profile" personal space, which is accessible via the homepage of the Southplanet website and via national portals. These kits allow cultural operators to make their own websites for free (without paying either the online uploading or the hosting) and easily. It is now possible to create a new website in a few clicks by adding pages and contents, or changing its appearance (colors, images, fonts).

In addition of the "artists" and "works" kits, several other have been developed. There are 6 of them in total: "personal" kits (for artists, culture professionals), "structure" kits (for associations, organizations, production or publishing companies), "group" kits (for music groups, dance and theater  companies) "place" kits (for cultural places: cultural centers, galleries, theaters, cinemas), "movie" kits (for film producers: fiction, documentaries, shorts movies) "festival" kits (for festival coordinators: multidisciplinary or dedicated to a single art discipline).

Project Results

A first concrete result of the project was the implementation of 22 national portals. The sites and tools are fully functional, lightweight (weak local connections taken into account), powerful and easy to use.

The uploading work was impressive. The database now has over 42,000 people (artists/professionals) and 11,000 structures.

The Southplanet website, set up by Africultures, accessed over the last three years to a referent dimension, as for the amount of data and for its reputation level. This last point manifests itself in the desire of many projects and structures to work with Southplanet and merge their databases and networks to avoid the duplication of their work, and also to ensure better visibility to artists. Some good synergies have been set up, either around the Southplanet website itself or within the cultural sector, mobilized as a whole and now having the ability to take control of its own communication and the ability to build bridges between cultural actors. Africultures has not replaced the ACP actors, but has on the contrary strengthened and supported in their autonomy.

Strengthen the promotion of cultural products

This objective was achieved through the development of the Southplanet website, through the creation of 22 national portals and also through the creation of many tools, allowing cultural actors in ACP countries to be masters of their own communication: self-presentation online forms enabling the addition of information about artists, works, events and projects; customizable website kits; press area.

In the Southplanet project, ICTs are tools made for the promotion, marketing and distribution of cultural goods and services. Cultural professionals from ACP countries and their works now benefit from a large visibility and audience in a national and international scale. They have now access to different information and are themselves more accessible. The information about the actors and cultural products is now easily available and for free. It is also better organized and well readable (i.e. through website usability and multi-criteria search tools). The information circulation is facilitated, not only because of the website Southplanet and the national portals themselves, but also thanks to the CC-BY-SA license (Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike) that allows other websites, blogs, portals, catalogs, to use the Southplanet contents for free. With this method, the information does not remain confined inside the Southplanet website, but also circulate widely on other media. This is a huge visibility gain for the artists, which significantly strengthens the promotion of their works, whether material ('physical' cultural products i.e. books, CDs or DVD) or immaterial (cultural products such as shows, concerts, projections, etc.).

Strengthening professional networks

Another declared objective of the project was achieved through the mail contact forms on professional pages, which avoids the disclosure of mail addresses and then prevents spam, through business pages with discussion forums and information by sector and specific region, and through the project space.

Structuring the environment

The website possesses now all the benefits of a comprehensive and structured information (schedules, tours, distribution of cultural goods and services); it mobilizes cultural professionals from all ACP countries to take their own communication in hand, thus developing their autonomy and constituting an effective platform for collaboration and networking.

Strengthening the role of diffusion of festivals

This objective was achieved through the tools developed specifically for festivals (festival kit, catalog creation tools, page programming tools), through a cultural agenda putting the festivals in its center, and through a search tool allowing to look for festival by genre, artistic discipline, country or months. This tool simplifies the collaboration between festivals: for example it prevents two major music festivals to take place simultaneously in East Africa and instead allows them to calibrate their dates so they can have a better organization concerning the coming of international artists. By having access to information about other festivals, each structure can harmonize its agenda, consider a common circulation of works and artists, develop regional partnerships, etc. Sending weekly national cultural newsletters, highlighting the different festivals, is reinforcing them as distribution, formation, and creation centers.

Facilitate the development of cultural policies

This objective was achieved through almost completeness of the data, allowing a realistic overview of the cultural sector. It allows decision makers to better understand the cultural actors and their products. Statistical tools have been developed to exploit these data and be able to do a real analysis. Accessibility for Africultures data as contacts database enables funders and policy makers who wish to send, via the team Africultures, targeted emails or surveys, to a target group that they would involve the development of cultural policies. The cultural operators themselves can use the data to make political lobbying.

Durability

The information available on the website will inevitably continue to grow, as everyone can add or supplement the content, because the actors were trained to do so during mobilization sessions.

The mobilization of the cultural sector in each country combined to every performed communication activities ensures that the project will continue to live in these countries even without financing. Since Southplanet is an interactive website it is the users who make it live, both by adding or updating content and by the use of the website to create a network or seek partners. From the time when a country's cultural industry has been aware of the website and has learned how to use it, the information will continue to be updated directly from the source, and the sector will continue to be structured.

The development of data sharing digital tools, allowing other websites to easily access its contents (soap systems, widget, Iframe, RSS), incite them to enter directly their own data on Southplanet rather than creating other duplicate databases. That process will also guarantee in the end the development of our information.

In conclusion, Southplanet represents a dynamic, ensuring a long-term sustainability without the need for new financial resources.

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The website: www.spla.pro

1. The link to the website presentation clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WhqD-qaAhI (French version) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuAfYGH6CQM (English version)

2. The link to the Spla video (cultural actors from different countries of the three zones, demonstrating their use of Spla): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrhtvSW1-JY

 For more "best practices" of the ACPCultures+ Program, visit THIS PAGE

 

December 8, 2015
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