Popular TV series on African Arts calls for broadcasters’ support


African Arts constitute one of the richest human elements of the continent. African people, societies, and civilizations each have a unique and special art culture, sometimes quite different from the West. Art from the African Diasporas in America and Europe is also very unique and adds to the diversity.
But there had not been much on the topic showing on TV until producer Jean-François Hassoun from Libero Films picked it up back in 2006. African contemporary art and creation are the two specialties that Libero Films have been focusing on since. Sylvain Béletre from Balancing Act interviewed Christel Arnold who celebrates her programme’s fifth anniversary.

Afrik'Art is a 26-minute cultural magazine dedicated to Pan-African contemporary art. “We have been focusing on the Francophone African regions because this is where our broadcaster – Canal + Afrique - has its subscribers. But ideally, the programme should expand to the whole of Africa and to the African Diasporas.” said Christel Arnold, in charge of the programme, adding that: “the magazine encompasses most artistic modes of expression, including music, literature, dance, sculpture, paintings, film and photography. Its borders do not step into historical arts and folklores, even thought contemporary art can find its roots in traditional craft and culture expression.”

“To date, we have a catalogue of 350 days of filming in 21 countries - most of them in Africa -, more than 260 artists’ portraits of 5’ each and 54 magazines. We have just completed the 5th. season and are about to start season 6 for 2011. Each magazine will now include 4 portraits of 6’ each.”

Afrik'Art has been co-produced and broadcast by Canal + Group, and recently “Planete” TV channel has also started broadcasting it. “Other broadcasters and channels have shown interest in the series, and it would make sense that American, English, Spanish, Italian, Arab, German or Portuguese-speaking channels request their dubbed version.”

All portraits are filmed onsite across Africa and special editions involved a trip to Brazil. “We have also attended Art fairs all over the continent, even some on comic strips. We have touched on street art, quite strong in some parts of Africa.” mentioned Christel Arnold.

A special issue dedicated to the Panafrican Festival in Algiers in November 2009 was broadcast on Canal + Horizons. Another issue highlighted the new edition of FIMA (Fashion – “Festival International de la Mode Africaine”) in Niger and was released in February 2010. Over the Football World Cup in June-July 2010 in South Africa, a special edition with local artists in Johannesburg and Cape Town was also produced.

“Afrik'Art from Libero Films is a small team: 2 producers, 1 presenter – Elizabeth Tchoungui – a few reporters and the technical team. It was fairly expensive to produce since we go onsite to visit each artist and we also spend a lot of time to deliver quality.” Ms. Arnold concluded.

The programme was made with the intention of sharing African art and stimulating thoughts - whether intuitive or rational, exchanges and emotions. Samples can be requested from Libero Films and 40 videos can be found on its Facebook page.

With five years’ experience, Afrik'Art producers have aggregated best practices to build the ideal format on the topic. Interested producers and broadcasters are invited to contact Libero Films to launch a similar programme to cover contemporary art on other continents.