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Role of arts & culture in Development
Helen Gould Coordinator- Creative Exchange
Extracted from the Nhimbe Newsletter: July 2004
September 09, 2004

The use of culture is widespread in development, but its contribution is largely invisible. Government funded research by Creative Exchange, the UK-based network for Culture and Development, has found that 5 UK development agencies spent around 30 million on 350 projects over 2 years. But generally cultural activities are not recognized at policy level and there is limited understanding of how they should be managed and implemented.

The research found that culture was regarded as an important context for development; as a rich source of culturally-appropriate local content for development communications; and that cultural expression was a powerful mechanism for awareness-raising, participation, dialogue and empowerment in development. Creative Exchange is now working on an advocacy document to try and improve awareness within the development sector of the role played by culture in development.

Creative Exchange has been operating since 1997 and operates a network of more than 185 organizations and individuals in 26 countries who are using culture and creativity in development and empowerment internationally. Our 'partners' include UN agencies, international development agencies like Save the Children and Action Aid, individual artists and development fieldworkers, and grassroots projects in communities in the UK and developing countries.

We are evolving the INTERCOM networking partnership between 10 other regional networks for culture and development in East and Western Europe, Africa, South East Asia, Australia-Pacific, Central, South and North America.

Our information service reach more than 1,500 people worldwide, and is a unique source of best practice, professional development, advice, contacts and support for people in this field. We are developing the Virtual Resource Centre for Culture and Development, a specialist online information repository.

Our ongoing programme includes research on different aspects of Culture and Development, including mapping the involvement of development agencies, exploring the role of culture in conflict-related issues, integration of refugees and asylum seekers, and creative approaches to both gender equality and child rights/participation.

We believe that arts and culture play a significant role in improving quality of life of poor and disadvantaged people and in achieving sustainable human development. We aim to help poor and disadvantaged people reach their full potential by promoting education in the use of arts and cultures for community and personal development.

To be part of Creative Exchange and contribute to its events and information services, you need to join as a partner. Information about partnership can be obtained from our website at or

Nhimbe Trust is a partner of the Creative Exchange.

Visit the Nhimbe Trust fact sheet

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