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SADC Artists AIDS Festival and the Southern Africa Editors’ Forum join hands in response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic

January 26, 2010

Lilongwe, Malawi

The Southern Africa Editors’ Forum (SAEF) as well as SADC Artists AIDS Festival held separate and joint meetings in response to the AIDS pandemic. The meetings were held in Lilongwe, Malawi from December 01 to 04, 2009 and their deliberations resolved that their two organisations would join hands to effectively help address the pandemic in a more inclusive manner.

Recognising that there has been little, if any collaboration between  artists and the media in the presentation of issues related to the fight against AIDS in the arts, the two organisations agreed to create information sharing platforms for editors and journalists with artists to better understand and communicate with their audiences as both seek to stop the pandemic.

The joint meeting of the two bodies takes cognizance of the need to work together and recognize that there are some critical issues relating to ethics, copyright and other protections of artistic license and productions. There would be need for the media and the artist to better appreciate each other’s work.

There was also a clear need by both organisations to recognise the need to work closely with their National Aids Commissions to ensure a more collaborative and clear message in the attempt to mitigate the AIDS pandemic in the SADC region.

SAEF reviewed its Media Action Plan (MAP) on HIV and AIDS and Gender that it has been implementing over the past five years since its founding in February 2004, while the Artists have decided to set up their own Regional body called the Artists Trust of Southern Africa (ARTSA).

Both SAEF and the ARTSA have come up with specific Plans of Action to be implemented over the next 24 months. These include, on SAEF’s part, working with other players in the continued response against the HIV and AIDS pandemic through the improvement of the reporting of AIDS in the region, specifically through supporting the introduction of Work-based HIV Policies in media houses with the continued support of Gender Links of South Africa and introducing media awards in conjunction with SADC, specifically focusing on the response to the epidemic at national level in the respective Member States. SAEF also resolved to share best practices by producing articles and sharing them amongst the Region’s media practitioners as a way of capacity building with the support of SAfaids.

The Artists Trust of Southern Africa (ARTSA) after their meeting resolved to advocate for the establishment of a Cultural Trust Fund that would support the efforts of artists in their fight to mitigate the pandemic. Additionally ARTSA also resolved to create a budget that would be utilised to enable arts journalists to accompany artists, especially to major regional and international festivals.

The ARTSA meeting also resolved to hold at least one joint annual meeting of artists and the media so as to improve the collaboration in the communicating of the messages on HIV and AIDS in a more holistic and professional manner. ARTSA has called for the reinstating of the SADC Arts Awards and Hall of Fame to honour great and innovative artists as a way to encourage professionalism, sensitivity and pride in their work around the issue of HIV and AIDS.

The ARTSA meeting further agreed to collaborate with the SADC Secretariat on implementing the SADC 2010 Investment Promotion Programme through music and cultural activities.

Among the programmes that the two organisations pledged to work on together is a SADC Goal that specifically states: “All member states demonstrate a 50% reduction in the rate of new infections to half of the 2008 levels and mitigate concomitant impacts by 2015.” This calls on every player to help control and reverse the HIV and AIDS epidemic and its impact in response to the Millennium Development Goals and the Universal Access Commitments by 2015. The Goal, in short is called ‘50 by 15’.

The meetings and cultural performances were supported by UNAIDS/UNICEF, the German Embassy (GTZ), the British Council, the Goethe Institute, Zodiak Broadcasting Services,  Music Crossroads, AWISA, Q. Malewezi, Southern Africa Theatre Initiative, Theatre for Change, Copyright Society of Malawi, Kamusu Gallery, Lucius Banda and the Summit Cultural Centre.

The two functions were facilitated by the SADC Secretariat based out of Gaborone, Botswana with the media meetings being facilitated by SAEF and the SADC Artists AIDS Festival facilitated by Rooftop Promotions in conjunction with the SADC Artists AIDS Festival.

Further information can be obtained from:

SADC Secretariat Public Relations: Telephone: (267) 3181293

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