Best practices of the ACPCultures+ Programme: CULTURE WORKS CONNECTIONS

Culture Works Connections reflects Visiting Arts core aim to promote international artistic exchange and the project has been vital in addressing the needs of the arts and cultural sectors in ACP regions.

The Culture Works Connections provided training and opportunities to the cultural sector in business skills, cultural leadership and networks & mobility across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific. A €500,000 project funded by the EU programme ACP Cultures+, Culture Works Connections supported over 400 artists and cultural professionals over a 3 year period from 2014 to 2016.

The ultimate aim of Culture Works Connections was to increase markets for the work of artists in diverse locations and contexts in the global south and to become more sustainable as businesses. Training for artists and cultural organisations first addressed their primary motivations as participants in the programme: their creative ambitions, their cultural curiosity and the drive to overcome obstacles facing their artistic development.

“We know that we (in the Pacific Islands) exist but the rest of the world doesn’t. And if they do they have a very generalised idea of our reality. We don’t think that we live in paradise. We want to leave. All the time. And we can’t. My peers express such a longing to not be where they are. To move”, comments Ebonie Fifta, from Tonga.

The four components of the project were delivered over 3 years from 2014-2016:

• Conducting a needs analysis of the artists and organisations in Trinidad and Tobago, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Islands with online surveys and desk research;

• Further development of the online networking site World Cultures Connect (WCC) and facilitating the posting of artist and organisational profiles for international visibility;

• Delivering Creative Skills (Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji, Ethiopia and Malawi) and Green Room (Guam) training programmes to over 400 artists and cultural professionals;

• Hosting a delegation of artists from all regions at the Edinburgh Festivals and International Producers Breakfast; hosting an Exchange Workshop between Scottish artists and producers and CWC artists.

Based on the analysis, the programme was tailored to support individuals, micro and small creative businesses. Visiting Arts along with project partners created a suite of promotional and development tools and training programmes for the creative industries, which included online webinars and resources in promoting to festivals, funds for international mobility, international art transport and US visas for cultural professionals. Participants joined a network of World Cultures Connect Ambassadors who share their learning within the local sector and organise further networking events to strengthen national and international links.

“The resources have broadened my perspective on international work and have allowed me to focus on diversifying Elle’s services while penetrating different markets. I am proud to say that Elle is franchising in October 2016 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, commented Evita Thomas, Elle Model Management from Trinidad and Tobago, Creative  Skills Workshop participant.

Culture Works Connections has helped participants define their ambitions and gain the skills they need to build financial sustainability as well as create meaningful connections to the world that tell the story of their artistry and their communities.

“Now I could bring knowledge back to my community and tell them this is the way the world sees us, not the way we see it, and we have to invent terms and language to express where we are to the world. And we also have an opportunity to recreate ourselves, in the sense that you don’t have to be stuck in tradition. We have to move forward and grow the business outside of Carnival.” said Damian Whiskey from Trinidad and Tobago.

Most participants found the training transformative: 95% of participants stated that they felt confident or very confident in looking for international work & opportunities and communicating about their work to online and offline audiences

“The Fiji workshop provided the opportunity for Pacific cultural producers direct access to a major festival director, which gave significant insight into how to develop, target and promote works to international festivals. International festivals are a key distribution channel to get professional Pacific work out to an international stage.” underlined Letila Mitchell from the Pacifc Arts Alliance.

Creative Skills training

Intensive workshops were designed to increase artists’ and creative practitioners’ awareness and knowledge of the platforms, tools and opportunities that exist for communicating and promoting their work to local and international audiences and partners. The workshops, held in Trinidad & Tobago, Ethiopia & Malawi were designed to give participants the opportunity to reflect on their current practice and explore how to access local and international.


WCC webinars & resources through World Cultures Connect provided e-learning resources and webinars for members and other site visitors. These enable both target and final beneficiaries to access specific expertise on a range of topics of relevance to working internationally in the creative sector.

World Cultures Connect

The online database and networking hub, World Cultures Connect (WCC), was re-launched in late 2014 to meet the requirements of arts and cultural professionals as a platform to promote their work and services, discover new talent and opportunities, make valuable connections and access insights into international work.

Finding out about opportunities and events was the most valued feature of WCC (71% of respondents). Nearly half (45.20%) of respondents use WCC to promote their work by updating their profile information and posting announcements. Equally they use the platform to understand the international arts and cultural offerings. Also valued highly was the ability to discover new work and potential partners (41.90%); build their network (41.90%); and approach individuals and organisations about their work and services. 22.6% use the platform to access the professional development resources such as the Q&A’s on international working.

Case study 1

McArthur Matukuta has played an active role in the cultural and creative sector in Malawi since becoming a theatre practitioner at the age of 22. Under his leadership, Solomonic Peacocks theatre has just established the first ever international theatre festival in Malawi which aims at promoting and developing the local theatre industry through creative entrepreneurship in arts and cultural management, networking and audience development. Seeing the diversity of opportunities available for his organisation, McArthur applied to join the Creative Skills training to fill the knowledge gap in order to improve the work he is doing and expand their market base internationally as an arts business. He also hoped that the artists he works with and the nation at large could benefit from the knowledge and skills gained and put into practice by his organisation. Since the training, McArthur has been invited to perform in a festival in New Zealand and is working towards two other festival projects.

Case study 2

As a Caribbean writer who predominantly works within the US market, Rochelle Amour joined the Creative Skills training to develop her international marketing and networking skills. Using her strong social science background she writes on topics of culture, wellness, business and lifestyle. Rochelle had just started venturing into book publishing.

Her passion and drive led her to start the Caribbean’s leading culture podcast, t&t Unpacked, for which she has interviewed fellow WCC Ambassador Damian Whiskey, and with the support of the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, Trinidad and Tobago, she attended the Edinburgh visit to feedback on her experiences, contacts and knowledge gained on our networking and professional development exchange week.

With her new found knowledge and confidence, Rochelle is thinking of becoming a consultant and is also looking to create a WCC podcast series looking at diaspora around the world.


More best practices HERE

May 15, 2017
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