NIGERIAN and other artists from West Africa, who are applying for the U.K.-based grants, The African Arts Trust (TAAT) will have to wait till 2012 to be considered.
Jessie Scott, the administrator of the Trust, in his response to question about eligibility of Nigerian and West African artists stated that grants in 2011 have been restricted to specific parts of Africa.
TAAT, an NGO, set up for the support of African artists, home and in the Diaspora, was launched last year founder, former partner in Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic and top British art collector, Robert Devereux.
He has warned that TAAT would not give grants to individuals, but only artists working as a group.
Scott explained, via e-mail conversations that the Trust, currently, has a geographical focus, which could change next year to extend to other parts of the continent.
“Unfortunately, we needed to restrict the area in which we focus our grant making for the first year of operating. Being a new grant making organisation, we have to be mindful of the amount of funding we commit in the first year.”
Artists of East African origin, are currently the beneficiaries. This, Scott explained, has to do with the fact that “the founder’s experiences are rooted in East Africa and therefore we have chosen to concentrate our work there for the time being.”
Scott, however, assured that TAAT will re-assess this decision in 2012 and hope that in the near future, “we can extend our remit to include West Africa because like you so rightly pointed out, there is a wealth of talented West African artists that could also benefit from TAAT.”
West African artists, said Scott, are “welcome to begin work on applications, as long as they know that there are these restrictions on our geographical focus at present and that we cannot predict exactly when our resources will allow us to extend our grant giving to West Africa.”
He reminded, however, that “it is also worth emphasising that applications have to be made under the umbrella of artists-led organisations rather than individual artists.”
Scott urged West African and other artists not to be disappointed, stating that “we are very keen to know the type and variety of visual arts projects going on in West Africa and from people interested in support. Our reservations were just that we did not want people to feel like they had invested lots of time and effort on applications without being aware of our current restrictions.”
TAAT has divided its priority into two areas: High and Medium. These include studio/exhibition space, artist exchanges, competitions/awards, exhibitions, materials/resources and core funding under High. Listed under Medium are: travel, workshops, project funding, artist proposals and education. It, however, “may fund in rare circumstances,” areas such as books/publications, video/radio and festivals/biennales.
Although officially registered just over three months ago, TAAT, however, has been giving grants to artists since October last year. The grantees include art groups and organisations in Africa and the Diaspora. One of the six grantees, is AfricaLab, an organisation set up by Zina Saro Wiwa, a U.K-based filmmaker and daughter of the late writer-environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Her project, a video installation titled Sharon Stone in Abuja screened in London last October was organised as part of Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary celebration. It featured works of Nigerian photographer, Andrew Esiebo, Kenyan artist, Wangehi Mutu and African American painter Mickalene Thomas.
Some of the other grantees of TAAT are: Matter of Record art exhibition by Kenyan artist, Peterson Kamwathi $2, 500, October last year; construction of additional studio and gallery space as well as other projects for a Kenya-based group of artists Kuona Trust, $40, 000, 2011 to 2012; a group of 25 Zimbabwean artists, Gallery Delta Foundation, $10, 000, June to September 2011.