Project - Details

10.03.2015

Building capacity in Africa

(More pictures are available on the FIA Flikr account)

Solidarity is not a term that we, at FIA, take lightly and if someone had the patience to scroll through our history he/she would find countless initiatives that give that word its true meaning: from shelter to fellow performers from political prosecution to campaigns for freedom of artistic expression; from international boycotts in support of our members' industrial actions to relief funding for performers and their families struck by a sudden act of God, our Federation has shown many times that each and every one of us matters.

Trade union work is what we do and we believe that every performer should benefit from the protection of a strong and representative labour body, determined to enhance their terms and conditions and, more generally, improve their wellbeing. In many parts of the world, performer unions don't yet exist or are still too weak to make a real difference. In these cases, solidarity often means sharing experience and creating opportunities for that to happen.

In parts of the African continent, many things are desirable, from modern infrastructures, to social justice, peace or even more elementary needs like access to water or food. Whilst some of these challenges are beyond our reach, FIA and its member unions have actively campaigned against apartheid and supported democratic opposition movements in countries crippled by ruthless dictatorships. Today, we proud ourselves with contributing to democracy and artistic development by helping performers organise themselves as a professional group and build sustainable unions.

Since the late 90's, our Federation has organised workshops, meetings, training seminars and other activities to the benefit of performer groups in Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, Madagascar or South Africa. As of 2014, we have sought the support of LO-TCO, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, to help us sponsor the costs of twinning agreements between some of our most experienced members and others in Africa offering a good match.

Twinning agreements are long-term bilateral partnerships promoting mentoring and guidance between performer unions from different parts of the world. By establishing a constant line of communication, these joint ventures make it possible to capture the full extent of the challenges faced by performers at field level and work with them to develop appropriate and realistic strategies to overcome them.

Today, FIA's twinning agreements are entering their second year in Morocco and Ghana, skilfully handled by the Syndicat Français des Artistes-Interprètes (France) and Equity (UK). Their work plans range from promoting a legal framework to facilitate collective bargaining on film and television, to building a modern membership database and a sustainable affiliation system or helping our African colleagues deliver attractive services to their members. "It's about sharing experience to guide other performers' unions from around the world", adequately says Edward Cofie, from GAG in Ghana.

Two of FIA affiliated unions in North America, i.e. SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA, are also working with the South African Guild of Actors with a view to helping them increase their freelance membership and promote international standards in the local film and television industry.

None of this is easy. None of this gets done immediately. All of this requires determination, commitment and a certain degree of stubbornness. Luckily, these are the very ingredients that make FIA what it is: a worldwide community of single minded organisations whose only reason to be is to fight to make sure performers, wherever they are, can make an honest and safe living of their work.