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NEW SPACES - Cultural Policies

Political change that has swept Sudan since the beginning of 2019 has opened new avenues for art, culture, and discourse to go public. With previously few possibilities to influence the way they can work in the country, artists and cultural actors have begun to engage in a pertinent discourse for which the project “NEW SPACES Cultural Policies” of the Goethe-Institut seeks to provide a platform. It strives to enable a growing number of civil society actors to share in the political decisions that frame creative work in Sudan.

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NEW SPACES - Cultural Policies© Goethe-Institut / Mohamed Faisal

Since early 2019, Sudan has been undergoing major political upheaval: In months-long protests, initially sparked by rising bread prices and shortages of petrol and cash, but soon turning against the country’s regime, voices became louder that called for “freedom, piece, and justice”. In April 2019, Sudan’s long-time president Omar al-Baschir was removed by the military, making room for freedom of expression, also concerning the country’s cultural reorientation, for the very first time.
With the convening of the Cabinet on 5 September 2019, a new political phase also began for the country. It was characterised by a gradual democratisation of the decision-making process and greater participation of civil society. Herein lies an unprecedented opportunity for artists and cultural actors as well as cultural organisations and associations to take part in the political decision-making.
With independent actors, in particular, having been denied a say for so long under the previous regime, there is a backlog of discussions to be had on how cultural professionals and artists want to work in the future and what support they expect from policymakers. This is where the project “NEW SPACES Cultural Policies” comes in.
The project seeks to provide a platform for an emerging discourse on culture and art in Sudan, their impact on society, and the ways to promote them through policy. This discourse should be as broad and inclusive as possible. Initially, a comprehensive survey on the current situation of artists and cultural professionals across the country will therefore identify what these actors consider their most urgent matters.
In order to initiate a discourse on these issues, the Goethe-Institut will organise several discussion forums for cultural actors to engage in a mutual exchange on their priorities. They will be joined by international experts from the field of cultural policy, who can complement discussions with their insights, particularly into the transformation processes of other countries. Their observations on successful and less successful cultural policies in the wake of profound political changes can inform Sudan’s way forward on these matters. The discussion forums will be broadcast in different parts of the country, hence facilitating a broader discourse. Ultimately, these forums also make a valuable contribution to the networking efforts among the different actors, paving the way for long-term cooperation.
“NEW SPACES Cultural Policies” is a project of the Goethe-Institut, supported by the Federal Foreign Office.