As Africa continues to appreciate and realize the value of intellectual property in the creative industries, it is rather obvious that we are yet to grasp the intricacies that come with creating of Award ceremonies for our creative and entertainment industries.
Using Kenya as a study,there are several reasons why entertainment awards organizations have failed. There are the obvious reasons like lack of financing, lack of government support and lack of consistency. But there are other issues in my view that perhaps if addressed, will tackle the ‘obvious’ reasons already mentioned.
One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the need for structure that is properly documented. What is the theme of the award? What does it seek to award? How will the talent be awarded? What is the process of the award system? Is there an academy or selecting committee? How does one become a member of this committee? For how long does a committee sit for? Such infrastructural details must be addressed and put in place. Some of the failed awards systems have been tainted with accusations of cartel-like associations. With the absence of such integral and foundation requirements credibility of such awards becomes close to non-existent.
The other issue is on the ‘how’. How is the talent being rewarded? Such awards in my view should add value to the winner’s career. And when I say value, I mean relevant value. If it is a film award, let it not be just a trophy award. The need for further education and advancement in the relevant area of art/award would be useful. Something in the likes of a professional course in acting, music etc at a reputable university with excellent ranking on the course. Internship opportunities with renowned global corporate brands, for example Universal Pictures, BET among many others.
Of course this is likely to be made easier and possible if the relevant ministries, i.e Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture and the relevant State corporations and parastatals play an active and relevant role. When a Government supports such endeavours, sustainability and credibility is likely to be gained. But who am I kidding? This is Kenya. We have mastered the art of politicizing everything we do, even when it is uncalled for! We need to keep politic out of the arts and work with merit.
We need to find our own solutions. Perhaps the private sector can be instrumental. Some of the well-known Kenyan Corporate brands would like to adopt some of these awards. However, the trick would be to ensure a win-win situation for all parties involved. I am sure for marketing gurus this is a challenge that can be taken on with eyes closed.
When we analyse the Continental award systems that have been set up, some of theme seem to be achieving their purpose. For example, the MTV MAMA Awards. In my analysis they seem to be doing something right. Artists in the music field seem to always look forward to it and excitement is evident whenever they are about to release the nominees list. However, I stand corrected if one is in dispute of my analysis.
There is now a recently launched Pan-African Music Awards, All African Music Awards, AFRIMA. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the founders and Country Director, Nigeria Kingsley James. He took me through the aim of the AFRIMA awards system and it seems solid. In my opinion, the highlight is the fact that it has been endorsed by the African Union, I am not certain which Commission it is under though. My hope is that the AU offers AFRIMA solid support for longevity and credibility. I do await to see the documented processes of this new Pan-African Music Awards especially because it is continental in nature.
As we strive to find our footing as a country and as a continent, these issues I have tried to bring out in my view should be considered among other that I am sure I have left out. As an industry we need to strive to create standards and find sustainable working solutions.