Cultural Policy Imperatives in Theatre for Development Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa and its Implication in the Field

by Ofonime Inyang (South Africa/Paper Session)

200x200pxOfonimeInyangThe application of the techniques of theatre for development (TfD) to tackle the development problems of rural communities is considered by researchers and development practitioners as timely and relevant in the global crusade against hunger, poverty and other development challenges (Desai, 1990; Dinesh, 2005; Conrad, 2004; Ebewo, 2004; Nwansa, 2009; Akashoro, Kayode and Husseini, 2010). The current realisation of the theatre for development or applied theatre praxis and practice in the universe of participatory communication and its current adoption by international development agencies and practitioners as the model of its project implementation in many parts of the world sends a clear message of function, relevance and practicality. The need for intervening policy mechanism that can build bridges of understanding, align methods of operations and mitigate this “identity crisis” (Govender, 2009) becomes imminent especially in Africa that currently witnesses constant testing of several dimensions of hybrid practices that claim the applied theatre label. Can cultural policy instruments and training be useful in this direction? What role can development practitioners and local artists play in this regard? Are there global best practices that can serve as models for such an initiative? This paper examines these issues using critical theory and constructivism (Reason, 1988; Mcctaggart, 1991; Chambers, 1994; Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995; Babbie and Mouton, 2001; Bradbury-Haung, 2001; Baum, Macdougall and Smith, 2006; Rifkin, 2010). In this regard, the paper will analyze existing cultural policy documents in Nigeria and South Africa. The local policy frameworks that guide the operations of council for arts and culture in the various states of Nigeria and the South African State Theatre policy on community theatre and arts practices will be reviewed. The study will also interview local artists, cultural practitioners and officials of ministries concerned with the creative enterprise in the aforementioned countries.