Ghanaian visual artist Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987, Tamale) is the 2020 Principal Prince Claus Laureate, and dancer and choreographer Melaku Belay (b. 1980, Addis Abeba) is a Prince Claus Laureate with his Fendika Cultural Centre. The Prince Claus Fund was established on 6 September 1996, Since then, The Prince Claus Fund offers financial support to individuals and organisations who implement outstanding cultural initiatives, primarily in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean & Eastern Europe.
Embedded within the specific cultural and socio-political history of Ghana, the work of Ibrahim Mahama addresses issues of globalisation, labour, the exchange of materials and community building, ultimately bringing to the fore a more universal social condition. Mahama is well known for his wrapping of architectural structures with jute sacks. He is actively involved in improving social conditions for his community and in 2019 he set up Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, a free access, artist run, non profit hub for cultural events with hundreds of students visiting on a daily basis to participate in workshops, use the library or attend film screenings.
“It is a great honor to be the recipient of the PRINCIPAL PRICE CLAUS AWARD for 2020. It’s humbling to be receiving this award within the times we live in. It proves that partnerships, collaborations and most importantly support structures are very necessary for building the next generation engines. Most gratitude to Ghana and the continent for creating the enabling environment to think, create and share my practice. Now more than ever we need to come together to build a new image for the continent and world at large,” the artist wrote on facebook. The artist was awarded as the 2020 Principal Prince Claus Laureate at a private ceremony held at the Residence of the Netherlands Ambassador in Accra, on 3 December.
Ibrahim Mahama joins the ranks of Prof. J.H. Nketia (Laureate 1997), Tetteh Adzedu (Principal Award 1998), and El Anatsui (Laureate 2009) as previous Ghanaian Laureates of the Prince Claus Awards.
Melaku Belay (Fendika Cultural Center)
Owned and run by dancer and choreographer Melaku Belay, Fendika cultural center is a cultural hub and vibrant creative hotspot in the heart of Addis Ababa. The centrer is a melting pot of traditional and contemporary cultural expression, where artists of all generations experiment with new forms and reinvigorate old forms in all artistic disciplines, from music and poetry to visual arts and performance. “I am motivated by love. I love my country, I love my people, but the world only knows Ethiopia as a place of hunger and war. So I want to tell the world about my people’s music and culture, that are part of our daily life,” the choreographer and dancer wrote, adding on facebook: “All my dear friends, Fendika Cultural Center is a Prince Claus Laureate! If you love our music and dance, you’re part of this story! We are proud to represent Ethiopia among the 7 amazing Prince Claus laureates from 7 countries. But we cannot do it without you! We love Prince Claus Fund’s motto, ‘Culture has an impact. Culture transforms lives. Culture is a Basic Need.’ Our audiences have been teaching us these same lessons, by coming back to Fendika again and again, to experience or create Ethiopian music, dance, and art. Thank you!
Among the other laureates there are Diamantina Arcoiris, a fashion designer from Colombia who uses her knowledge and skills to help those marginalised by society; Açik Radyo—an independent, collectively owned radio station in Turkey, founded by Ömer Madra and run and programmed mainly by volunteers; Tunakaimanu Fielakepa is a committed activist for Tonga’s living cultural heritage, its language, traditions, values and customs; Argentinian m7red is an independent network of socially engaged architects and spatial planners. They work with citizens, especially under-represented communities, to counteract developments that impact negatively on communal spaces.
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