- This is a great day. With MIMETA in place we are even more ready support and promote arts and cultural projects in our partner countries. An important goal for MIMETA is to present diversity, open dialogue through art and motivate and stimulate the creative expressions. - But first and foremost is our job to support the supporters of the art and those who creates solid and sustainable structures within the arts- and culture sector, "said Cato Litangen.
In a development perspective MIMETA is primarily to support the art for art's sake, as both participation and the free, crative expressions are human rights. Secondly, Mimeta is about facilitating the dialogue, promote cultural diversity and – ultimately - investigate the link between creativity and economic growth, says Litangen.
- MIMETA role will encourage interaction and open doors to other organizations. It will support the lobby towards governments and cooperation with other strong civil society groups like the business sector. MIMETA can play a role as facilitators in the dialogue with their own authorities that again can exert pressure on our political organs and systems. At the same time, it is important that MIMETA use the opportunity they have to teach the Norwegian people about our art and our culture and to change the image many have of Africa, "said Mike van Graan, in his remarks.
Mike van Graan notes that it has taken long time for culture to get a place in the overall development thinking.
- It has taken time because we have not understood the value and power of art and culture in a development perspective. Development organizations have not understood the cultural dimension, and the politicians and authorities have been more concerned with what makes them re-elected, but to embark on something they do not completely understand. But now it looks as we have an awakening.
- There is a cultural awakening of the African continent, and the value of culture expressions, identity and belonging is crucial. At the same time, it is important that Africa will re-vitalize its’ own cultural resources. Today Africa has only one percent of the global crative market. At the same time, we see that there has been a change in self-awareness and the need for self-identity. Also, after the attacks on the twin towers on Manhattan 11 September 2001, culture has become an important part in order to understand the cultural differences we live in.
- To create cultural dialogue MIMETA is a welcome, and the organization can play an important role in promoting dialogue between the countries in the south and the North, - said Mike van Graan before Suzanna Owiyo took us into new and exciting African rhythms and melodies.
Yesterday MIMETA, Norway's first Centre for Culture and Development, was launched. The organization is owned by Strømmestiftelsen and Vest-Agder County. Especially welcomed was the Kenyan artist Suzanna Owiyo and Mike van Graan, head of the African Arts and Culture Network Arterial Network.
Egil Mongstad Text and Photo
In the press: Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK)
See also ARTerial Network's vision for the African creative sector, speech by Mike van Graan