Forum Spurs need of Reflection on Cultural Spaces
Initiated to harness discussions on the role of culture in the urban environment, the challenges existing in Kigali in particular, and the opportunities offered by adaptive reuse of existing abandoned buildings in the city, the International Forum for Cultural Spaces in Kigali aimed at an agenda of sparking a conversation around the creation of a cultural infrastructure.
With Kigali a fast growing city, emerging as a business, convention, tourism and investment hub is a desired projection. Its national, regional and international capital status deserves a cultural offer on par- with its economic achievements and ambitions. Adequate central cultural infrastructure for cultural expression and creativity, accessible to creative industries professionals and consumers, can reinforce the new unified Rwandan cultural identity and allow Kigali to become a vibrant cultural capital.
The forum is organized by and with Rwandan city stakeholders alongside invited multidisciplinary expertise from Rwanda, around the continent and beyond, took place in March 2019 at the Kigali Mariotti Hotel, and shared belief that culture and creativity are essential in the urban construct, as drivers for development. Culture drives sustainability, inclusion, resilience, it stimulates innovation and economies. Culture touches us all; hence the forum brings together stakeholders from the creative, the public and the private sector and also includes a public cultural event.
Given the current context of rapid economic and real estate growth in Africa and in Rwanda in particular, the forum through discussion elaborated both the role of cultural infrastructure in sustainable urban development, and adaptive re-use of existing buildings.
With currently a mapping underway in Kigali to identify potential interchange as well as needs for cultural expression and creativity. The forum focussed onto the Kigali Central Prison, a building with a turbulent history, built by the German colonial powers as army barracks, turned into a prison by the Belgian successors and before as well as after independence a place where many prisoners were held. The last prisoners were vacated late last year. Could Kigali Central Prison become an important interchange in the cultural infrastructure of the city? What is the potential and how can such a project become feasible? A feasibility study will present adaptive re-use and management models based on fruitful mixes of cultural and commercial uses.
Among activities, the forum featured a Preliminary Workshop, which brought together local and international representatives from the creative, private and public sector as well as students from the School of Architecture in Kigali. It featured speakers from Minister of Sports and Culture of Rwanda, Rwanda Arts Initiative, Rwanda Development Board, Mayor of Kigali and a keynote address by Prof. Lesley Lokko, University of Johannesburg discussed Cultural sector spaces needs in Kigali, Financing and management models, African Capital of Culture concept Kigali Central Prison case- in reference projects from around the continent like: Freedom Park in Lagos, DARCH in Dar es Salaam, Go Down Arts Centre in Nairobi, ArchiAfrika Café in Accra, Doual’art in Douala, KampNagel Theatre in Hamburg, BOZAR in Brussels, and others. It further encompassed a visit to the Kigali central Prison and grand cultural programme on site