Written by: Anne Wanyoike

The Creative Arts Spaces in Kenya (CASiK) is a project launched and funded by the French Embassy in Kenya, whose main aim is to support and further promote the work of cultural and creative centers across the Counties of Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Mombasa and Lamu. CASIK identified five cultural venues across the five counties namely: Dunga Hill Camp in Kisumu, Youth Alliance in Lamu, Swahili Pot in Mombasa, Nakuru Players Theater in Nakuru and Sarakasi Trust in Nairobi. Find out more about CASiK on their website here www.casik.org 

The Program identifies the specific needs of these creative spaces, and thus supports them through funding already existing projects, training workshops, sound and light equipment installations, amongst others. 

One of the series of the ongoing countrywide workshops is about branding. The training was hosted across the CASiK venues. On the 4th of May 2022, the “Learn to Brand, Brand to Earn” workshop was hosted at our very own space, Sarakasi Dome, with the facilitation of brand and entertainment expert Moses Mbasu better known as Buddha Blaze. (@ItsBuddhaBlaze on Twitter @buddhablazeworld on Instagram)

While speaking to us during the training, he expressed that: “In my 20 plus years in the creative and entertainment industry, I have seen a tremendous growth within the sector, but the most outstanding challenge that I keep recognizing is that artists are not well informed when it comes to matters art and more so, art business. I therefore applaud the efforts of the French Embassy to create such a platform for artists to learn and optimize their craft through their CASiK activity”

These words were echoed by the Project Coordinator of CASiK, Miss Beth Achitsa, expressing her optimism with the project saying, ” we do hope that artists and the players in the cultural sector shall leverage on the opportunities that have been availed through the multidisciplinary project. Moreover, we hope that our partner venues will keep the spirit of the project alive, because only then can we create a sustainable and feasible future for the creative economy”

Here are some take always from Buddha Blaze: 

  1. Know your target audience and feed them what they want/need.

As an artist, it is very important to have a clear understanding of the demographic dynamics that one creates for. This ensures that you create from a place of connection and clarity, to those that consume your content. What sustains an artist is knowing that their brand is deeper than what they portray online, but also having something that they represent and stand for beyond their artistry. “We are seeing more artists getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility or community service activities, which then creates a notion within the audience that the artist actually cares about the social wellbeing of those in community with him/ her, which translates into value addition.” 

  1. Create value.

Creating without an intended value proposition of addition, makes is harder for artists to thrive. When curating your brand as an artist, ensure that it adds value to the consumer, in a more researched and carefully crafted manner. Most artists do forget that they are in control of how the audience perceive them, and catering to perception is social capital that benefits the artist. The modes of value addition may include, consumer experience at live shows, online relationships, directly investing in audiences’ wellbeing, giveaways etc.

  1. Create a community.

Humans are social beings and so we have the inherent need to exist within a community. It is greatly advantageous for artists who gets the principle of community, and translating this vision to the movement that they are creating through their art. An example of a community is when a group of fans merge together, to support the cause of an artist, because the sense of community makes them feel that they are in ownership of the artistry.

  1. Create a presence online and offline.

Every artist needs to create an online and offline presence. This way, there is an opportunity for the fans to engage with the creator and thus further interacting with their brand story and what they are about. 

  1. Ensure brand consistency. 

Just as with anything else, brand consistency is very vital in not only creating new audiences or markets, but also maintaining the already existing ones. The more that an artist interacts directly with their brand, the more they understand it. Which in turn makes it easier for them to profit off it. 

The training was culminated with appreciation and feedback remarks from the attending artists, who were across different disciplines including dancers, acrobatics, poets, actors, musicians and artisans. 

Speaking to Mr. Oyamo Odari, the producer and creative director of Sovereign Productions had this to say about the training: “I have learnt so much about the role that branding plays when it comes to artistry. I was not aware of the key concepts that need to go into creating a personal brand, which from today I shall be sure to observe…” 

The CASiK project is in its third phase, with a couple of more to go, which include circuit tours across Kenya, sound and lighting training, installations etc.