Joy Mboya with representatives from SI and the Foreign MinistryThat culture plays an important part in the development of society goes without saying. Yet it often seems to be left in the wake of other sectors. Who should be primarily responsible for cultural life – the state or civil society? How can we bring the business sector and the cultural sector closer together? These were two of the key questions discussed at a seminar at the Stockholm Cultural Centre in June.

The seminar was organized by the Norwegian foundation Mimeta in collaboration with Creative Force, and specially invited guests were Joy Mboya from Kenya and Mike van Graan from South Africa. The questions under discussion were then taken on to the Tällberg Forum in Dalarna.

In Sweden, the state has prime responsibility for cultural life, whereas in South Africa as in many other African countries it is civil society. In South Africa, cultural workers have come together in their own networks. One successful example is the Arterial network, headed by dramatist Mike van Graan as secretary-general. This pan-African network brings together 150 organizations from 30 countries. Joy Mboya, who is a member of the Arterial executive, is also head of a private institution, the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi, which is funded by such bodies as the British Council and the Goethe Institute.

“But just as important as financial support are heart and brain exchanges with other cultural workers around the world,” she says. “We need more capacity development and we survive by networking and by joining workshops.”

Joy Mboya and Mike van Graan also took part in Rework the World in Tällberg, where the discussions on culture’s place in society continued. One of the themes there was how the cultural sector can create jobs and promote growth. In September, a follow-up meeting will be held at the GoDown Arts Centre on the theme of culture and enterprise under the heading The Economy of Creativity, again in collaboration with Mimeta and Creative Force.

A text from the last newsletter from Swedish Institute (

AuthorCato Litangen