June 16, 2024

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US, Kenya Unveil Initiatives Boosting Heritage, Tourism, Workforce

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During the recent State Visit of President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto of the Republic of Kenya, the United States and Kenya announced new initiatives and public diplomacy programs to elevate culture as a diplomatic platform that will bring people together, preserve cultural heritage, and strengthen the economies of our two countries. The Department’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) will continue the United States’ long-term investments across Africa to preserve and protect cultural heritage and boost tourism. In addition, in partnership with key industry leaders such as the Recording Academy, the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and other leading private sector and civil society institutions, the United States will launch new programs that will promote collaboration, build capacity, and bolster professional creative industry ecosystems. Through these initiatives, the United States and Kenya will connect industry leaders in music, film, and television and provide key technical and vocational skills needed to support a sustainable and thriving creative infrastructure.

As part of the shared focus on tourism and cultural heritage, the AFCP will support efforts led by the National Museums of Kenya to preserve the archaeological site of Takwa, a 15th- and 16th-century Swahili trading town. AFCP projects help preserve a wide range of cultural heritage – including historic buildings, archaeological sites, ethnographic objects, paintings, manuscripts, and indigenous languages and other forms of traditional cultural expression – and contribute to local economies by supporting tourism. Since 2001, AFCP has invested $18.2 million in the preservation of cultural heritage in over 45 countries in Africa.

Beginning this summer, shared efforts to bolster Kenya’s growing creative economy will get underway. The ACTV will bring television professionals from Kenya and across the African continent to Los Angeles for a four-week residency at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where they will be mentored by American television writers, producers, and industry experts. ACTV focuses on professional development and networking opportunities for television writers, producers, and other technical fields such as art direction, cinematography, editing, and line producing.

In addition, mid-level music industry professionals from Kenya will participate in the first-ever American Music Mentorship Program (AMMP), which is a partnership between the Department and the Recording Academy. AMMP connects international mid-career music industry professionals with mentors selected by the Recording Academy. AMMP was first announced by Secretary Blinken at the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative in September 2023.

As part of the Community College Initiative Program (CCI) – which taps into the U.S. community college system to provide educational and technical training to international students – the United States will provide Kenyan students with a tailored academic program at U.S. community colleges that will build the students’ technical skills in film and television production, enhance their leadership capabilities, and prepare them to enter the workforce upon returning to Kenya.

Finally, as part of the American Film Showcase (AFS) program, the Film and TV Leadership Initiative will bring Kenyan and other African filmmakers to the United States for workshops and networking with their American counterparts, including at the 2024 Middleburg Film Festival in Middleburg, VA. They will also engage with their American counterparts in Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Washington, DC;. The Department will also send leading U.S. film and television professionals to conduct workshops in Kenya as a reciprocal exchange.

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