The annual Kenya National Drama and Film Festival brings together over 10,000 students from different institutions of learning who display the authentic richness of Kenya’s cultural heritage.
Whereas most of these competitions are themed, the magnitude of creativity showcased by learners through cultural dances, spoken word, choral and solo verses and narratives are shelved once the winning teams are feted.
Youth participation during the drama and film festivals is an intentional strategy to pass on compelling messages about climate change, moral values, health issues and food security to all and sundry.
By amplifying youth voices through drama, young people add their voice to the existing social economic environment and sensitize each other persuasively to be the transformative change agents.
The compelling and convicting youthful talents birth theatre diplomacy a platform through which learners can develop and nurture their creativity for internationalization as well as network to spur their mobility to give a renaissance to a generation of artists and culture professionals.
This necessitates the establishment of a sustainable drama and film ecosystem with a monetization model to archive the presented items during each festival.
Principally, the ecosystem ought to have systems to provide support to young artists and culture professionals for their participation in transnational networking in different international cultural events, such as festivals, exhibitions, fairs, in order to exchange information, showcase their work and gain access to international markets.
Importantly, there is need to identify national or regional cultural institutions in order to nurture partnerships between homegrown (local) culture professionals and their international peers.
Equally, such a model will spur cultural networks that prioritize the mobility of artists and cultural operators with a view to facilitate the development of international cultural projects.
In the long-run, theatre diplomacy will contribute to the development of vibrant cultural youthful communities with open, international worldviews able to attract not only inward investment but also trade activity.
Equally, the model enables teachers, the drama festivals secretariat and partnering organizations to acknowledge the positive effects of the competitions for the local cultural fabric and communities, cities and regions.
The return on investment on the model will propel territorial development for learners, enhancing the cultural offer from international exchanges and attracting creative youthful workforce and inbound investment; development of skills, creativity and innovative capacities of the local ecosystem, a catalyst for businesses development; regeneration and social change, converting neglected or abandoned areas within counties into cultural spaces offering occupation opportunities for local artists that foster community engagement whereas contributing to social interaction.
Given a holistic perspective, theatrical diplomacy uses drama to foster inclusion and alienates stereotypes thus promoting moral values and national and cultural aspirations.
Nancy Marangu via email