Art & DesignHow Has the Covid-19 Imposed Lockdown affected the creative Industry in Uganda?

Joyce ObuyaFebruary 4, 20236139 min
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The creative industry is a wide industry which mostly comprises people who are involved in design, music, publishing, architecture, film and video, crafts, visual arts, fashion, TV and radio, advertising, literature, computer games and the performing arts. Those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. The term ‘cultural industries’ is also used by some agencies, though this term relates to a more specific range of industries and can be regarded as a subset of the creative industries.

The impact of Covid-19 lockdown on the creative industry and particularly on the cultural sector, has been significant. Live performance venues, museums and galleries have been forced to close their doors for long or indefinite periods, films and television programs have had to put a halt on production, and self-employed creatives have experienced immense job instability.

As a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19, nearly all the country’s major events Including concerts, theatre shows, museum visits, live music shows, poetry nights, comedy Shows, and exhibitions have been cancelled with tight restrictions to enforce and promote Social distancing. Prominent venues and art centers like the Uganda National Museum, The Uganda National Theatre, Ndere Cultural Centre, Afriart Gallery, Nommo Gallery among others have since closed their doors in the interest of public health. Also leisure spaces like cinemas, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, clubhouses, casinos, sports centers, hotels, that are mostly frequented by freelance artists who do gigs like live music shows, poetry nights, deejaying, concerts, and film screenings have also seen closure given the drastic government lockdown measures.

Major events organized by artists in the country went into waste and loss because of the restrictions. Some of them invested their life savings in preparation for the concerts. They, unfortunately, have not recovered from the blow. With the new measures in place, hundreds of artists and arts organizations in Uganda are facing an unprecedented loss of livelihood and incomes due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it.

According to Reignite Africa , In August 2020, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development announced that it has secured 6.6 billion Ugandan shillings as a stimulus package to artists who have been without work for six months (as of September 10th 2020) as a result of the COVID-19 presidential ban on the sector.  This was a move in the right direction for an industry that generates more than shs. 3.5 billion of total business income to the economy. However, the artists haven’t received this stimulus package till date.

The 2020 KQ Hub Africa COVID-19 Arts Impact Survey stated that 80% of artists and Artist organization representatives rely on these community events for a large portion of their income to supplement their freelance earnings and sustain their livelihoods. The fears are not only on how to survive but also include rising mental health concerns, financial security and community connectedness. These concerns cannot be underestimated when persons in the sector have no means of sustaining livelihoods.

Despite the above mentioned negative impacts caused by COVID-19 on artists livelihoods and incomes, Artists through this crisis are still creating, innovating and offering a ray of hope for the majority of people who are mentally distressed and need music, humor, film, visual arts to keep sane while still practicing social distancing by staying home. They are using their creative skills to sensitize masses about how to navigate the times by creating educational audio-visual content, illustrations, and visual skits that they are sharing through various social media platforms and using live stream options like Zoom and Skype to host intimate live music shows, concerts, and webinar sessions with their fans

The Social media livestream model across various platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube is being adopted by artists and arts organizations in Uganda including East African Records that recently hosted a live music Facebook show featuring artists, an online music streaming and monitoring platform, featuring their founder talking about the future of the Music business during this crisis. Amidst all this uncertainty, artists are encouraged moving forward to rethink their business models with an emphasis on sustainability, to start saving for eventualities, to innovate ways of remaining relevant during times of crises and to embrace various digital platforms with business models that can support them during times of crisis. The necessity to embrace digital platforms may not only be necessary in these unusual times but it’s likely to become the new normal in the Post COVID- 19 era.

In this season, artists need to be innovative, work with their partners and donors to collectively save the industry so that the pandemic does not see the industry cripple down but come back stronger than ever before. This is possible and achievable, we have to hold up each other in tough times of this nature, each stakeholder has a role to play.

Joyce Obuya

Relevant experience as a content writer. Highly proficient in Keyword Research and its tools. Experienced writer in both short-form and long-form blogs as well as Business Publications

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