Fabrica III- Supporting Namibia’s Creatives in Celebrating Diversity and Inspiring Creativity: an Experiment in Scaling Wide
June 12, 2023
Namibia's cultural heritage is a tapestry of artistry, craftsmanship, and diverse expressions that reflect the country's versatility and rich cultural identity. In an ambitious experiment to scale the creative sector, the UNDP Accelerator Lab launched a Make-a-thon creativity design challenge in May 2023, an experimental journey to scale the creative sector, embracing sustainability and anchoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in public consciousness. The UNDP Accelerator Lab's innovative campaign aims to empower creators and artisans while fostering a sustainable and inclusive creative ecosystem. By combining creativity, collaboration, and a focus on SDGs, this nationwide experiment seeks to amplify the impact of Namibia's artistic community and drive sustainable development.
With the spotlight on "Namibia Crafted" or "Namibia in Focus" design, we aimed to celebrate the country's cultural diversity. The Make-a-thon was designed to inspire creators and artisans to leverage their talent and creativity in a collaborative, yet playfully competitive manner.
Showcasing Cultural Diversity:
Entitled the “Fabrica III Design Challenge”, the Make-a-thon was a novel opportunity to showcase the vast cultural diversity of Namibia through the lens of its creators and artisans. By encouraging participants to draw inspiration from the country's history, landscapes, and diverse cultures, the focus of the Make-a-thon was to celebrate the essence of what it means to be Namibian. From the beaded precious stones polished at source, to the rhythmic beats of traditional music to the intricate craftsmanship of indigenous arts, Namibia's creators and artisans were given a space to express themselves in demonstrating the remarkable versatility and skill present in the country's cultural heritage.
The Make-a-thon's primary goal was to aid in identifying and scaling some of the unseen work in the creative sector by fostering an environment that nurtures and empowers Namibia's artistic talents. By inviting creators and artisans from all walks of life, regardless of age or skill level, the initiative aims to unlock hidden potential and provide opportunities for growth. The focus is on cultivating a supportive ecosystem across Namibia that encourages innovation, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. The Make-a-thon received a total of 37 entries, of which 25 were identified as having the potential to showcase local creativity and innovation.
An Experimental Approach:
The campaign adopted an experimental approach, recognizing that scaling the creative sector requires exploring new pathways and challenging conventional norms. By encouraging creators and artisans to embrace innovation, take risks, and collaborate, the initiative aimed to uncover transformative solutions for sustainable development. Through this experimental mindset, participants were given the opportunity to discover unexplored avenues, push boundaries, and shape the future of Namibia's creative landscape.
Anchoring SDGs in Public Consciousness:
At the forefront of this experiment is the aim to anchor the SDGs in public consciousness and part of our efforts to localise the SDGs. By aligning the Make-a-thon with the SDGs, the initiative seeks to create awareness about the urgent need for sustainable development and inspire action among participants and the wider community. Each aspect of the campaign, from fostering creativity to promoting economic growth, will be designed to contribute towards the achievement of specific SDGs, such as promoting inclusive economic growth (SDG 8), fostering innovation and creativity (SDG 9), and preserving cultural heritage (SDG 11).
Sustainability lay at the heart of this experimental journey. The campaign emphasises sustainable practices, both in the creative process and in the broader impact on the environment and society. Participants were encouraged to incorporate sustainable materials and techniques into their artistic creations, reducing waste and promoting environmentally friendly practices. The Make-a-thon also hoped to raise awareness about sustainable consumption and the role of art and culture in addressing global challenges, such as climate change, inequality, and social cohesion.
Creating Long-Term Impact:
Beyond immediate outcomes, the Make-a-thon aims to create long-term impact and build a sustainable creative sector in Namibia. By equipping creators and artisans with the necessary skills, resources, and networks, the initiative seeks to foster self-sufficiency and resilience within the artistic community. The scaling process will not only contribute to the economic growth of individuals but also promote the growth of the sector as a whole, generating employment opportunities, attracting investment, and promoting cultural heritage preservation.
Engaging the Public and beyond Fabirca III to localise the SDGs:
To maximize the impact of the Fabrica III Make-a-thon while anchoring our work in the localisation of the SDGs to reach a wider audience, the following ongoing experiments to generate further insights and support the creative industry will be implemented:
Media and Digital Platforms: Leveraging traditional and digital media platforms, a dedicated Fabrica website, and online galleries, the initiative will showcase ongoing participants' works, share success stories, and provide resources and information to engage a national, regional and global audience. The campaign will share success stories, showcase sustainable practices, and highlight the transformative power of art and culture in achieving the SDGs. This will raise awareness and inspire individuals to support the sustainable development agenda.
Collaborative Partnerships: Collaborating with Namibian artists, schools, Arts Councils and international organizations such as the UNDP, the United Nations Economic and Social Council Organisation (UNESCO), the private sector, the media and influencers will amplify Fabrica’s reach and provide participants with access to mentorship, funding opportunities, and markets beyond geographic borders.
Capacity Development: Hosting workshops and learning sessions led by industry experts will equip participants with essential skills, knowledge, and tools to scale their creative endeavors. These engagements will cover topics such as business development, marketing, quality assurance as well as financial and digital literacy.
Amplifying Success Stories: Sharing success stories of Namibian creatives who have successfully scaled their artistic and local ventures will inspire and motivate others to pursue their imaginative ideas. These stories will be shared through various media outlets, including traditional and digital platforms.
International Exposure: Collaborating with cultural exchange programs and organising exhibitions and showcases in collaboration with the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation as well as through Namibian Embassies abroad will provide participants with opportunities to gain international recognition, foster cross-cultural understanding, and attract a global audience.
The experimental journey to scale the creative sector in Namibia holds the promise of transforming the nation's artistic community while also addressing the need to localise the SDGs. By promoting sustainability, fostering innovation, and actively engaging the public, the campaign aims to empower Namibia's artistic community. Learn more about Fabrica III by following our journey on social media and the UNDP Namibia website