The 2023 Africa Creative Market (ACM),a platform that empowers African creatives,has been described by stakeholders and participants alike as a resounding success, solidifying its role as a leading platform for nurturing and promoting African creativity.
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The event which took place from November 2 to 7, 2023, at 21st Century Technologies Limited in the heart of Lekki Phase I, provided a platform for creative professionals from across the continent to share their work, learn from each other, and connect with potential collaborators and clients.
The opening day of ACM 2023 was packed with engaging events, from panel discussions and keynote speeches to master classes and creative sessions. The event started off strong with a focus on the music industry, featuring an opening speech by Bada Akintunde-Johnson, a co-founder of ACM and the country manager for Paramount Africa. This set the stage for a week of programming that explored the full range of creative industries in Africa.
Inya Lawal, the visionary co-founder of Africa Creative Market,in her opening remarks, demonstrated her dedication to empowering the creative sector and emerging talents seeking their place in the sector. In an interview at the ACM event, she said, “By bringing together artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs from across the continent, we create a platform for networking, collaboration, and exposure through ACM. This, in turn, helps in fostering innovation, economic development, and job creation within the creative sector in Africa.”
Will Stevens, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, brought an international perspective to the event, recognising the global significance of African creativity in music, film, fashion, and the arts. He emphasised the importance of bridging the gap between African creativity and the world stage, demonstrating the U.S.’ commitment to supporting African creatives. During his address, he stated, “Africa has assumed a prominent role in the global entertainment landscape, with Nigeria at its core. The United States wholeheartedly supports creative talent in Africa and is dedicated to offering platforms for their economic growth. That’s why we’ve joined hands with Africa Creative Market.”
The keynote session on intellectual property and creative rights was an important highlight of the event, with valuable contributions from Ramin Toloui, assistant secretary for economic and business affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Herbert Wigwe, Founder of the HOW Foundation and WIGWE University.
Toloui emphasised the need for a regulatory environment that supports and protects creative rights, while Wigwe highlighted the role of universities and research institutions in assisting creatives with the complex legal issues involved in protecting their work.
According to intellectual property lawyer Nabila Aguele, a robust intellectual property framework is essential for the sustainable development of the African creative sector. By enforcing IP rights, African countries can protect the interests of creatives and encourage financial growth in the industry.
“We, as African nations, need to make it a top priority to advocate for the development and enhancement of a strong intellectual property framework. This framework should safeguard the rights of creators and drive economic prosperity within our creative industry,”Aguele emphasised.
The Creative Unveil session curated by Yinka Davies was a valuable opportunity for creatives to learn from the experiences of established figures in the industry, such as Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Mádé Kuti. The advice offered by Ajai-Lycett on the importance of humility was particularly insightful, as it resonated with many of the attendees.
The panel discussion on the MTV Base “Inside Life” reality show hosted by Ilooise Omonhinmin was a fascinating glimpse into the lives of African creatives featuring music stars Eltee Skhillz, Big Rexxie, and Liya. It showcased the hard work and determination required to succeed in the industry as the panelists offered valuable insights into the challenges they have faced and the strategies they have used to overcome them.
The final day of ACM 2023 featured legendary dancer Kafayat Shafau (Kaffy), who led a practical workshop on the art of commercial choreography and Afro-dance expression. She emphasised how creatives in the dance space can upscale their talents while embracing the artistry of movement. A panel discussion, featuring Iyabo Ojo, Daniel Grey-Leonge (Drey Beatz), Bunmi Olunloyo, and Wale Rubber, addressed key issues in the creative dance industry, including the impact of social media, managing societal expectations, and creating value as a creative.
The Africa Creative Market 2023 was not only an opportunity to learn about the creative industry, but also a catalyst for change in the mindsets of attendees. The event provided a roadmap for success, with practical insights into how to build a sustainable business model and ignite creativity.