The African Arts Institute organised a leadership symposium for the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) from 2-4 December in Cape Town, South Africa. This is the network's biannual event aimed at leaders of tertiary institutions that teach the arts, with 300 leading institutions from 50 countries as members. Every second year, ELIA hosts this event outside of Europe, and this was the first time it was done in Africa with approximately 120 participants, directors and deans representatives from various leading arts schools.
AFAC was invited to present a keynote paper on the last day and session of the conference. The proposed theme is Dominance. Diversity. Disruption, underpinned by questions such as “What is hegemonic in terms of ‘the canon’, aesthetics, worldviews, standards of excellence? How does this play out in a culturally diverse world, with different worldviews, value systems, religious beliefs, aesthetic traditions? How do the arts, and the institutions teaching these, disrupt, reinforce or nuance these dialectic tensions between the economic, the political and the cultural?”
Oussama Rifahi, executive director of AFAC, discussed the current situation in the Arab region, including the status of arts and culture, artists, both in the region as well as in exile and challenged the representatives to join forces in formulating an initiative that could support exiled artists living in Europe, not having access to education opportunities in their host countries.