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Sharing knowledge and expertise with the African literary and cultural community

Press release issued: 5 September 2016

Academics from the University of Bristol helped create a workshop, held last month in Uganda, to support early career arts managers and entrepreneurs in the African literary and cultural scene and give them an opportunity to build their knowledge.

Dr Madhu Krishnan and Kate Haines, from the Department of English and Dr Ruth Bush, from the Department of French at Bristol partnered with colleagues from Stellenbosch University in South Africa and the Center for African Cultural Excellence to design the workshop which was held as part of the annual Writivism festival. 

Kate Haines, said: "This four-day workshop was set up with the aim of giving 35 aspiring and early career arts managers and entrepreneurs in the African literary and cultural scene the opportunity to build market knowledge, develop project management skills, share best practice, and network with colleagues from across the continent."

Each day of the workshop focused on ways of setting up, thinking about and sustaining a different kind of literary initiative - from organising a literary festival to running a book distribution business, from publishing translations to managing a literary prize.

It drew on the expertise of established professionals including Deborah Asiimwe (Kampala International Theatre Festival), Wartson Atukwatse (Writivism Festival), Terry Ayugi (Chimurenga), Renée Edwige Dro (Collection Danbé), Kgauhelo Dube (Long Story Short), Beatrice Lamwaka (FEMRITE), Moses Kilolo (Jalada), Sumayya Lee (Writivism Short Story Prize), Felwine Sarr (Editions Jimsaan), Louise Umutoni (Huza Press) and Zukiswa Wanner (Judge, 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature). 

The workshop combined presentations, critical readings, practical exercises and opportunities for discussions, and was attended by participants from 13 African countries. 

Participants were selected from both an open call for submissions and expressions of interest from festival speakers.

The conception and critical reading for the workshop was able to build directly on the research expertise of Dr Madhu Krishnan and Dr Ruth Bush on material cultures of the book and literary production across francophone and anglophone Africa.

Dr Madhu Krishnan and Dr Ruth Bush have recently been highly commended by the University of Bristol Engagement Awards for their ongoing collaborative work in this area, which puts their own research in dialogue with the structures of contemporary literary production on the African continent.

The Writivism festival is now in its fourth year and this year showcased over 70 speakers at the Uganda Museum with events ranging from performances to panel discussions to book launches, and culminated in the announcement of the winner for the 2016 Writivism Short Story Prize.

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