The art sector heavily suffers by the recent unrest

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By Muluken Yewondwossen
The Ethiopian art industry particularly the paintings and sculptures sector has been affected by recent political instability and public unrest.
On a panel discussion titled ‘Art and its Economic Benefit for Artists, Other Actors and the Country’ organized by Crown Publishing PLC, publisher of Capital newspaper, representatives of the art industry stated that the art industry and galleries has been affected with the recent instability in the country.
On the discussions that attracts the media, artists and promoters, Seyoum Ayalew, the outgoing president of the Ethiopian Painters and Sculptors Association said that the instability affected the tourism flow in the country.
“Our major clients are tourists and foreigners and the art market slowed in the past couple of years,” he said.
Experts said that several art galleries including Asni Gallery, which is one of the prominent galleries for tourists in the town closed its doors.
“They have tried to survive by subsidizing it, but they couldn’t continue anymore,” Seyoum said.
Several other studios including the famous Five Arts Studio established by artists was also closed due to financial reasons, according to the president of the association.
Besides that he argued that the sector does not have clear and knowledge based support and acknowledgement from the government.
“We are struggling to survive, while at the same time looking different kind of support to make the art industry one of the economic and social welfare contributor for the country,” Seyoum said.
Besides the workshop Seyoum told Capital that the art industry is one of the sources of tourist attraction for the country. “In 2014 Addis Ababa has been placed as one of the best tourist destination city in the world by New York Times. In its article the New York Times stated that Addis Ababa is a centre for hosting art exhibition every week and galleries in the town are performing very well. This is a good indication how the art industry contributed for the tourism and economy,” he added.
The New York Times ‘52 Places to Go in 2014’ stated “thanks to the city’s diverse art institutions and galleries, including the artist-in-residence village Zoma Contemporary Art Center and the Asni Gallery (really more of an art collective than a gallery), there is an art opening at least once a week. Even the local Sheraton puts on “Art of Ethiopia,” an annual show of new talent.”
In the panel discussion held on May 1, 2018, at Yucca House in the sidelines of the Tesfahun Kibru’s Art Exhibition, the art industry actors insisted that media houses and journalists should give proper attention for the sector.
It was also mentioned that journalists have to have proper knowledge to provide ample coverage for the art industry in general.
It has been claimed that even though the music and now the cinema sub sectors contribute for the economy it is stated that they are also very limited.
It was stated that in the emperor era the sector has been supported by the financial sector and secured loan. “Like the trend of other countries paints are considered as collateral like other assets,” Seyoum, one of the panelists on the discussion said.
He argued that exchange market like Ethiopian Commodity Exchange has to be formed to boost the sector and make more beneficiaries for the artists and related actors.