Culture Leads the Way

“Culture Leads the Way” (CLtW) stands as one of Selam Ethiopia’s significant endeavours, a project built upon the organisation’s past initiatives and experiences. At its core, the project aims to fortify the role of culture as a catalyst for democratic dialogue within development processes. Throughout its implementation, CLtW has fervently focused on empowering young women and men, nurturing their active involvement, and enhancing their capacity to contribute to democratic and interactive dialogues concerning developmental issues, all through culture and media initiatives.

Expanding Horizons

Initially launched in Addis Ababa City Administration and urban settings in regions such as Oromia, Amhara, SNNPR, and Tigray, CLtW has come a long way. After three years of impactful work, the project’s footprint extended to other regions across Ethiopia, including Sidama, Harari, Somali, Afar, Gambela, and Dire Dawa City Administration. These regions were selected due to their accessibility, urban development, and the presence of vibrant youth initiatives and cultural and media actors. Selam’s prior experiences and established contacts in these regions further fueled this expansion.

Project Goals and Vision:

CLtW’s primary objective revolves around developing strategies within the cultural sector, encompassing music, films, media, circus, theatre, and literature. It provides extensive technical capacity-building training, material support, and event management assistance to target groups, with a special focus on empowering young women and men. The ultimate aim is to enhance their cultural capabilities, inspiring and facilitating the creation of enriched cultural and creative works. All of this is done with the overarching goal of strengthening the participation and freedom of expression of right-holders within the development process through culture as a means of expression.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

CLtW operates in close coordination with national and local cultural government institutions, universities, media organisations, cultural interest groups, and prominent figures in the cultural and media landscape. Direct beneficiaries of this project are young women and men, typically aged 18-35, who exhibit an interest in actively engaging in cultural endeavours.

Objectives and Achievements:

The overarching goal of CLtW is to deepen and strengthen the participation and freedom of expression of rights holders in the development process through cultural expression. To achieve this, CLtW focuses on three core objectives:

  1. Strengthening the role of culture as an enabler of democratic dialogue in the development process.
  2. Engaging young women and men rights holders in democratic and interactive dialogues on development issues through culture and media initiatives.
  3. Raising awareness among the general public in five cities across four regions about the role of culture and media in social mobilisation and democratic dialogue.

Regional Reach:
Throughout its implementation, CLtW has covered two city administrations and seven regional states, including Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Oromia, Amhara, Tigray, Southern Nations and Nationality, Sidama (added later), Afar, Harari, Somali, and Gambela. Notably, CLtW has also achieved significant results at the national level.

Donor and Partnerships:
The CLtW project receives support from Sida, and its stakeholders and partners include the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Labor and Skill, regional culture and tourism bureaus, higher education institutions, civil society organizations, special interest groups, commercial cultural entities, and private sector cultural actors.

Result Chain for Change:
CLtW endeavours to bring about anticipated change through interventions in three main areas: capacity building, production, and distribution. It assumes constant conditions and cooperation with partners and stakeholders, aiming to realise the project’s objectives within the allocated budget and timeframe.

Achieved Results:
CLtW has directly impacted approximately 500 young women and men, engaging around 100 activists in its first year. Through project groups, it indirectly reaches a broader group of around 1,500 young people in various ways, ultimately reaching a total of 2,000 young rights holders. The production initiatives of these project groups are expected to have a broad outreach, generating interest among local populations through innovative, locally driven projects. Furthermore, local radio stations, TV, press, and social media are anticipated to expand the project’s reach.

A conservative estimate suggests that 5-7 short-term projects will commence annually. Over the course of three years, this is expected to result in 25-30 productions. These productions vary in audience size, ranging from smaller artistic shows, poetry readings, exhibitions, talks, and seminars to larger-scale radio shows, spots, YouTube videos, recordings, social media campaigns, tours, and festivals. Together with public events organised by Selam and partner organisations, the project is poised to impact over 150,000 young and adult citizens with messages of social and human rights woven into its productions and events.

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