Advancing African Development Through Art: Artist Perspectives
While there is a common understanding that artists find it hard to make a living through their artistic activities, research is silent on how artists view and understand their lived experiences. “Creative wealth”, which is accumulated through artistic activities, is part of an untapped, unmeasured, and invisible economy (Kabanda, 2018). This qualitative, exploratory study examines the complexities of creative wealth through the lens of fifteen African and Afro-descendant performance, visual, literary, digital, and applied artists. Using a thematic analysis of semi-structured interview data, I present two conceptual themes: artistic challenges and artistic opportunities. The challenges focus on (1a) the trade-offs involved in the production and distribution of one’s art, and (1b) the lack resources to produce art, lack ownership of art, and lack of avenues to display or investigate art. The opportunities focus on (2a) how artistic activity can foster innovation and (2b) how artistic activity can be used as an individual-level and a communal-level tool of expression or "exchange of experience". The findings of this study indicate that artists perceive their artistic endeavors to be simultaneously impeded and elevated by conditions of scarcity, and they understand that these conditions are unique to their African ancestral identity. Drawing on insights and recommendations from the artists themselves, this research sheds light on how creative wealth can improve lives – both monetarily and non-monetarily.
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