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African Youth Arts Festival – Opportunity for Emerging Artists to shine


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 24 September 2021: The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the narrative change organization Africa No Filter (ANF) today announced the launch of a visual art competition aimed at boosting the profiles of art and artists on the continent.

The virtual convening is one of several events under the African Union theme for 2021, titled, Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. It takes place on 21 October and brings together arts, culture and heritage thought leaders and institutions and funders. The theme for the competition is The Africa Youth Want.

“This Youth Arts Festival is particularly valued by AUDA-NEPAD as a call to action for African artists, particularly youth, to use innovation and creativity to inspire and reimagine ways of celebrating African heritage and culture,” said Ms. Jennifer Chiriga, Chief of Staff at the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD.

“As Africans, we have throughout history used art to tell stories and celebrate our heritage, whether it was through ancient rock art or sculptures, or indeed through contemporary media such as illustrations, sketches, or photography. Art is at the very core of who we are,” Ms. Chiriga added.

Ms. Moky Makura, Executive Director at ANF, said the competition is an extension of the organization’s mission to support storytellers and artists who are using their skill to shift stereotypical narratives about Africa.

“There is a perception that Africans don’t value art and artists and that we don’t celebrate or particularly acknowledge creative talent beyond our musicians and actors. That’s why it’s been incredibly refreshing to see the full spectrum of creativity acknowledged by the AU this year,” Ms. Makura said.

“As well as the visual element of their work, artists play a critical role in society; through their talent, they can spark conversations, highlight issues and make complex subjects accessible, and that’s why we support them to shift narratives about Africa. We know that Africa has a wealth of raw, young talent – through this competition, we can draw attention to them and move them into a bigger space,” Ms. Makura concluded.

The partnership between ANF and NEPAD provides an ideal platform for amplifying the work done by visual artists to tell Africa’s story. 

The competition is open to emerging African artists based in Africa and aged under 30 years old. Their art can be in any visual medium – as long as it’s creative, innovative and reflects the content’s theme, The Africa Youth Want. Artists will retain their intellectual property. 

Submissions end on 11 October 2021 at 4 pm GMT. Entries can only be submitted online using this form. Winning artwork will be exhibited at the African Youth Festival and get cash prizes worth $1000, $600 and $400.

Queries can be directed to Millicent Kgeledi at: Millicents@nepad.org 

About African Union Development Agency
AUDA-NEPAD is a strategic framework for pan-African socio-economic development spearheaded by African leaders to address the continent’s critical challenges, including poverty, development, and Africa’s international marginalization. 

About Africa No Filter
Africa No Filter is shifting harmful and stereotypical narratives about and within Africa through research, grant-making and advocacy by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns. It’s a donor collaborative funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation and the British Council.


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