The website is a hub for information, discussion and exploration of African arts, beyond the geographical borders of the continent, and beyond any preconceptions about Africa and its culture. The new site brings under its wing the BBC’s existing music website Africa on your Street www.bbc.co.uk/africabeyond/africaonyourstreet/, with its interviews, features and CD reviews covering everything from Afrobeat to Hiplife to Mbalax, plus gig listings from across the UK.
There is a special focus on Ghana’s impact on the UK arts scene over the past 50 years. DJ and music promoter Rita Ray kicks previews Ghana-related events this year. There’s an interview with playwright Ama Ata Aidoo whose classic play Dilemma of a Ghost will be revived in London later in the year. You can browse a photo gallery of Max Milligan’s extraordinary images of Ghana and read about innovative Ghanaian company Theatre for Change. There’s also an interview with Rocky Dawuni, US-based Ghanaian reggae act, who returns to Ghana every year for the Independence Splash concert. Coming soon will be features on Ghana’s up-and-coming new writers and more Ghanaian music from old-style highlife to reggae to hiplife.
Tessa Watt, programme director, Africa Beyond says: “Our aim is to keep a high profile for African arts through the website and other media, and through lively public events. We are working with as many partners as possible to maintain the links between mainstream and grassroots organisations, to build a network of support for African arts in the UK and to keep African culture in a central position within the modern cultural landscape in the UK.”
Africa Beyond carries on the BBC’s African web coverage where the Africa 05 festival left off. Africa 05 left its mark with many high profile events such as Africa Remix at the South Bank, Back to Black at the Whitechapel Gallery and Africa Live at the British Museum, and even incorporating commercial partners such as Time Out, Starbucks and Borders and Books Etc. David Lammy, minister for Art and Culture says: “As a legacy, the Africa Beyond programme could, and should, form a strong platform for maintaining and supporting these art forms in the UK, and encouraging a broad range of audiences to recognise the global impact of African cultural expression.”
The Africa Beyond programme will also include live events, including the Word from Africa festival, a week long celebration of African languages which launches on 2 June with an event at the British Museum featuring musicians, poets and storytellers in the galleries and theatre halls. Further events will be happening in African restaurants around London.
Africa Beyond is supported by the BBC and Arts Council with other core partners including inIVA (Institute for International Visual Arts), the British Museum and South Bank Centre.