ADDIS ABABA - Performers from Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania have helped launch a five-year project to try to secure more funding for arts and culture, aiming to persuade African governments to allocate at least 1% of their budgets.
The project, called Connect for Culture Africa (CfCA) has been started by the African Union in collaboration with Selam Ethiopia, a non-governmental organisation that uses film, music and circus performances to address issues such as women rights.
"We want to empower artists. A lot of artists want to participate in these discussions about good governance, human rights but they are scared of the consequences," Lucy Ilado, regional programme director at Selam, said.
It is not yet clear whether African governments, many of whom are struggling with debt repayments and the high costs of living, will be able to allocate more cash to the arts.
The African Union was not immediately available for further comment.
CfCA organisers said they would work with government agencies, research institutions, artists and civil society with the aim of "budget proposals, budget bills, and, in countries where the process is further along, discussions on increased budget allocation to the culture and creative sectors".
Vitali Maembe, a musician from Tanzania who took part in Thursday night's concert to launch the project, told Reuters he hoped that more funding would help artists to be better educated.
"It is very rare you go to the university and see funds for the art students," he said.
Hundreds of revellers from Ethiopia and other African countries attended the concert, with music performances featuring saxophones, guitars, drums and traditional Ethiopian instruments.
(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Editing by George Obulutsa and Alison Williams)