Belisa Rodrigues - “We Are Very Open to Engaging with Our Partners”

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Oct 27, 2013
by Oscar Tollast
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Belisa Rodrigues - “We Are Very Open to Engaging with Our Partners”

Manager of two African arts organizations is keen to establish links with Salzburg Global Ms Rodrigues spoke to Salzburg Global whilst attending a recent strategy session

The manager of a pan-African arts association has said she is open to exposing its networks to Salzburg Global.

Belisa Rodrigues manages the day-to-day operations of the Arterial Network and is the general manager of the African Arts Institute based in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Arterial Network is a pan-African association of artists, cultural activists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural policy experts represented in 40 African countries.

Ms Rodrigues said: “We’re looking for sustainability strategies in order to show that these networks flourish and are strengthened.

“If the idea is around cultural hubs, rotating seminars or getting the conversation to move around – if we can help in that – whether it be online or whether it be a physical space, we are very open to engaging with our partners and making that possible.”

Ms Rodrigues was speaking to Salzburg Global during the recent strategy session on ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success.’

Participants convened at Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss ways in which the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum could evolve into a 10-year program, a session which Ms Rodrigues attended last year.

She said her invitation to last year’s forum was a great opportunity to be in a global environment.

“Often in our context when it comes to African representation in international forums, there’s normally one or two representatives and their voices get lost amidst the other international players.

“This was a very strategic opportunity for us to represent the continent through our networks and through my representation for Africa.”

Participants at this year’s strategy session focused on how the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum was organized, as well as assessing its methodology and teaching styles.

Ms Rodrigues said: “We’ve managed to break it down and analyze it and put forward some recommendations that will be useful for the next session and for the next 10 years in terms of how entrepreneurship is taught in the cultural field.

“The biggest takeaway for me was involving the participants themselves more intimately in the teaching methodology – using participants as live case studies.”

She praised Salzburg Global for picking out themes that were relevant to the cultural sector, including the role of arts organizations in society.

“I think for the next seminar series in terms of entrepreneurship, it’s very important to be able to understand the geopolitical and economic context in which we are operating in.

“That’s a unique role that the Salzburg Global Seminar can present because it’s about getting big picture thinking and then finding how to navigate in this global environment.”

During the session, Ms Rodrigues spoke at a fireside discussion about the geopolitical and economic context of Africa and the creative economy.

She said: “I was able to provide some examples of cultural entrepreneurs who are doing it despite the constraints on the continent and in their countries.”

The strategy session followed on from this year’s African Creative Economy Conference, held in Cape Town, which inspired Ms Rodrigues’ lecture.

“My talk was basically trying to take some of [the conference’s] recommendations and some of the thinking around this topic into this international platform which is exactly what the Salzburg Global Seminar series should be doing, which is capitalizing on the knowledge of its participants.”

Ms Rodrigues has a passion for the development and sustainability of the creative and cultural sector on the African continent and its ability to effect change in society.

Prior to her work at the African Arts Institute, she worked in the private sector for a number of years as Operations Manager for a global FMGG brand, and has also been involved in various freelance arts projects.

She describes herself at a “middle-management level” in her career, helping to support her manager to do more representative work.

However, Ms Rodrigues suggested she was beginning to enter a new phase of influence.

“I see myself now transitioning in that area where I’m presenting more in terms of personal career development [and] personal goals. I’m stepping more into those spaces.

“Even though I’m an administrator, I’ve now become more aware of policy development and actually influencing the field.”

Ms Rodrigues recognized the significance of being involved and connected with global thinkers at Salzburg Global.

“Being invited back is testimony to the fact that we have a unique role to play on the African continent, but recognizing we’re not operating in isolation.

“I think if we can insert or influence agenda, I think that is a really relevant and particular role I can see for the seminar.”