How do you make visible the creativity that happens behind the studio, workshop and office walls of a city such as Cape Town? And how do you connect this talent to potential commercial opportunity?
Creative Cape Town's newly launched app, which maps the creative industries in Cape Town, sets out to do just that.
The free-to-download app features a searchable directory service where creatives can upload a profile and portfolio, allowing prospective clients, collaborators and customers to view their work and contact them directly.
Beyond just a listing service, the profiles are pinned to an integrated map, which is a particularly nifty way for tourists to navigate the city's creative offerings, clients to find directions to creative hotspots and creatives to discover collaborators and services nearby.
Added functionalites include the ability to advertise vacancies, find reliable partners and upload industry-related events and programmes in and around Cape Town. Articles focused on Cape Town's creative industries are also featured on the app.
Four digital wizards shared their views on how technology is influencing the creative sector at the launch of the iOS version of the app (Android to follow).
Jepchumba: Tech as democratiser
Jepchumba, the founder of Africa Digital Art Network, served a reminder of technology's power to democratise the means to creative production: “These days you don't need a zillion-dollar budget. Anyone with a decent phone and an ego can create a movie.”
Technology has enabled Africans to represent themselves and their contexts in the digital realm, she said, sparking conversations around what it means to be African and exploring different African visual languages beyond the clichéd amber sunsets and acacia trees.
Jacques Blom: Tech as a tool
With a decade of programming experience already behind him, 16-year old Jacques Blom demystified coding and programming. Blom, who launched his iStyla app when he was only 14 years old, wants to encourage and empower creatives with this new medium.
“There is a common misconception that programming is a difficult thing to do, but like the brush to the painter or the hammer to the sculptor, tech is just another tool. Technology enhances your creative spirit,” he says.
Bozza: Tech as a channel
Bozza, a platform for the promotion of African musicians, filmmakers and poets, enchances the creative spirit through technology by connecting artists directly with their audience, cutting out the traditional middleman in these sectors.
According to Nicole Klassen, head of content at Bozza, digital technology provides an alternative distribution channel for African stories and music without the “gatekeepers”.
“I believe there is a way to put the power back in the hands of creative entrepreneurs,” says Klassen. "It's important to educate artists on how they can monetise their rights in a meaningful way.”
On Bozza, every view and share counts towards real services that artists can use to further their career. This includes services such as mixing and mastering, digital campaigns and video production for creatives who achieve a target number of views and shares.
She also warns that a blanket approach to technology in Africa does not work as each country poses unique contextual challenges. For example, in Rwanda the main way of sharing music still happens on cassette and the challenge is how to monetise this sharing. She also cited the example of one particular artist in Mali, who walked half a day to an Internet café to upload his work to Bozza.
“Data costs in Africa are still a major barrier to entry, affecting how we play in the digital space,” she says.
Between 10 and 5: Tech as a connector
According to the publisher of Between 10 and 5, Uno de Waal, the digital space that we play in can also make creatives feel lost.
He explains that as part of his four Ps of creativity, "proximity" plays an important part alongside "passion", "process" and "play".
“It's easy for us to lose a sense of proximity in a digital space,” says De Waal. “When close to someone, you can bounce off their energy. Likewise, technology can help create propinquity – the combination of proximity and serendipity that enables creativity to flourish.”
Creative practitioners in Cape Town and surrounds can sign up to the Creative Cape Town app directory for free here.