The East African Performing Arts Market (DOADOA) takes place from 3 to 6 May in Kampala, Uganda. A networking platform, DOADOA gives stakeholders in the music industry an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience.
We spoke with Philip Masembe, director of media and marketing at Bayimba Cultural Foundation, which organises the fair. Masembe talks about what participants can expect at this year's edition of one of the music industry's most important events.
What kind of partnerships has DOADOA established to further integration in the region’s music industry?
DOADOA has been pursuing the great East African integration dream for the cultural and creative industry. The existence of the East African Community has already helped DOADOA in this by allowing free movement of artists and professionals across borders without visa charges, access to affordable air and road transport, and cross-regional roaming on mobile network.
With a number of internationally acclaimed festivals emerging in the region – Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar (since 2002), SawaSawa Festival in Kenya (since 2007), Bayimba International Festival in Uganda (since 2008) and KigaliUp Festival (since 2011) as pioneers – to promote the consumption of East African music, Bayimba came to understand that the success of these festivals in promoting East African music and other performing arts regionally and internationally depends on the quality of local material that is available for their programming. After all, festivals can only promote artists that produce authentic live music and original performing arts.
Bayimba therefore mobilised its partners in the region to join hands to develop the regional market for performing arts in East Africa. DOADOA came up as a partnership of major stakeholders in the region: Bayimba Cultural Foundation (Uganda), Busara Promotions (Tanzania), Caravan Records (Tanzania), Sarakasi Trust (Kenya), Ketebul Music (Kenya), PHAT! Music & Entertainment (Kenya), AfroGroov (Rwanda), KigaliUp (Rwanda) as well as Selam Music (Ethiopia) and Jazzamba (Ethiopia).
However, East Africa’s and DOADOA’s dream would be further helped if work permit and tax requirements, import restrictions and duties for creative goods and services would be addressed and harmonised and if the enforcement of intellectual property rights is taken seriously.
In terms of expanding your reach and penetration in the region, what are the strides made this year?
This year's showcase and conference programming has an addition of new entrants – South Sudan and Burundi – because the major aim of the market is to unlock potential for the region’s creative opportunities. This year’s edition emphasises the role of the performing arts and their contribution to fostering empowerment, economic development and regional integration.
What can artists and industry players expect to gain from this year’s edition?
For performers, it could mean more international recognition and bookings for festivals, concerts, tours and other events; there are opportunities for artistic collaborations with the help of the live recording studios that are set up during the market.
There is a diverse wealth of delegates speaking and moderating conference sessions to. Depending on one’s position, there is knowledge and information to be shared, so everyone gets exposed to other professionals and can directly connect through the speed networking sessions too.
The topics for this DOADOA edition are carefully selected to address the challenges for performing artists and professionals. What challenges do they face in the East African region?
An established performing arts industry is enabled and supported by an effective and supportive regulatory environment. The political and economic conditions have a substantial bearing on the performing arts industry. Major economic crises and political conflicts undermine the arts. Poor governance, control of the media, infringement of basic human rights – all have a direct impact on the condition of the performing arts industry.
Anything that participants need to note about logistics?
Initially DOADOA's former host venue was Jinja which is an outskirts district but we decided to change location to city centre (Uganda Museum) since last year’s edition after artists from within the city found the distance challenging. With that slight logistical change, we envision bigger participation.
Secondly, there are two segments running i.e. a day programme with conferences, workshops, and live recording studios for collaborations, exhibitions, conversations, day showcases and speed networking sessions all at the Uganda Museum. The evening showcase programme of East African bands will happen at Diners Lounge, Bukoto in Kampala.
What do you see as some of the successes you can attribute to DOADOA so far? And what is in the cards for the future?
It’s been six years since inception, and DOADOA boasts connecting artists and other business associates, partners and professionals. The market has changed how artists think by sparking an entrepreneurial spirit. In the same way the market will continue to be practical and tangible in identifying new opportunities as well as new routes to job creation and income generation within the region’s performing arts industry.