- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
It would not be farfetched to say that every single person’s life, who lived on planet Earth during the pandemic, was changed. So many things about how we live, how we work, how we interact, are so different now that it is difficult to imagine a life in which that was the way we used to live. It seems impossible now.
We built a certain form of resistance, of resilience, in the face of something we had never seen before, and had no choice to adapt to. To date, we are still adapting.
When you look around you, there are many people who suffered, and in various ways: tourists who were stuck in countries they had not expected to be stuck in, for example. Mothers with babies in hospitals, or other sick patients who were suddenly not receiving care because of the COVID wave. Parents who found themselves having to home-school their children all day—something they had not experienced before. No jobs to go to and no salaries to come home to at the end of the month, if at all, because no one had any money to pay their workers.
If you look, however, at artists and creatives when the pandemic struck, it was almost like it was right up our alley. You see, practitioners within the CCI are very familiar with not having a regular paycheck, and/or living in dire uncertainty. Not that it doesn’t faze us, but things like working from home are not foreign to us. Having to instil discipline in ourselves to still make it through a pandemic was a muscle we had already flexed in our professional lives.
And yet, of course, there were those who did not adapt, or have not adapted, quite as rapidly, across any field you can think of. They have not built up, yet, the resistance needed to fight COVID-19 in a meaningful way that allows them to live with dignity. If we are being honest, artists can survive quite well, if they know in about three months, that money is coming. There was no hope of that, unfortunately, last year.
That is where Goethe-Institut’s JENGA CCI – Global Project Culture and Creative Industries resilience programmes come into the picture. If you had told me a few years ago that multiple international companies would be taking the time to come and help those less fortunate, I would not have believed you. If you had said that one day, media houses, computer firms, marketing companies, and all these corporates, would suddenly have to figure out a way to work from home, I would have laughed in your face.
The resilience programme is unbelievable if you are a creative who has been scrimping and saving and trying for your whole life. And if you are that person, this is a great chance for you. The creative sector is one of the hardest hit by this pandemic, and how everyone then proceeded to cope, in a large way, was to go online. On social media, the people who are creating TikToks en masse and having lives and spaces all over the place, you realise that the creatives were actually some of the biggest reasons we made it through COVID—the cheering, the knowledge, the camaraderie. The digital world can be a horrid place, but there are times when it is beautiful, like during this period.
For the cultural sector, the intrusion of the sudden digital haul provided diverse ways to make money and exchange ideas. One of these was the Global Project’s implementing of ‘resilience funds’ through stipends and capacity building measures in order to further support the sector and its actors. Although money is also definitely important, getting the skills to keep or grow that money is also important. This is what capacity building is about. Some of the programmes include VR/360 degree Filmmaking for Women, in partnership with DADA Trust; and BlackRhinoVR, which is a training programme to enable female filmmakers and creatives to expand their general skill set into the field of VR and 360 degree filmmaking as a resilience measure to cope with the changing scene during times of a pandemic. Women have been one of the most affected by the pandemic, especially those who already have a background in film and are interested in venturing into immersive technologies.
Another way to capacity build is the hybrid training programme, Santuri Electronic Music Academy (SEMA), in electronic music production and digital distribution, together with the local partner Santuri East Africa. SEMA is divided into two cohorts with twenty participants each: one for intermediary learners—to upskill what they have a foundation in—and one for advanced learners, to finesse their craft when it comes to interfacing and producing electronic music.
The point of the programme is to enable music producers to improve their technical skill set as well as to better cope with a changing scene; and to use the knowledge and skills acquired in music production and distribution to access new markets and audiences, and to generate additional revenue through a diversified portfolio. There are masterclasses for specific music courses going on as we speak, providing these participants with the information that they will need to navigate in the CCI today. One more thing: now that we are almost completely offline, or approaching that point rapidly, there are some people who still want to be at home instead of mingling with a virus. For those people, those creatives, a Soft Skills Training may go a long way to help. Artists learn different skill sets surrounding storytelling, audience engagement and monetisation.
These are just a few of the programmes the Goethe-Institut’s JENGA CCI and its project partners are running during the pandemic, all the while trying to help creatives, in partnership with local organisations such as Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI),HEVA Fund, and GigDynamics. With any luck, the creative sector will soon be able to stand on its own two feet again to create futures and tell their stories.
The project “Cultural and Creative Industries” is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. It improves employment and income opportunities for creative professionals in six partner countries; Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa and operates mainly in the music, fashion, design and animation sectors. In addition to promoting the development of entrepreneurial, digital, creative and technical skills through training programmes, the project aims to strengthen the framework conditions and the ecosystem of the cultural and creative industries.