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British Council East Africa Plugs into Africa Nouveau Festival 2018

In 2017 British Council’s East Africa Arts programme is working with Africa Nouveau in Nairobi, Kenya to understand the needs and ambitions of the festival and to connect them to aligned partners in the UK.


Africa Nouveau is a music and arts festival that brings together creators, curators and audiences from all over Africa and the diaspora. The festival is under the umbrella brand Good Times Africa that produces the regional festival, Blankets and Wine.

In mid-August 2017 Africa Nouveaus’ Creative Director Muthoni Ndonga begun developing a relationship with Hannah Pool, curator of Africa Utopia, an annual arts and culture Festival at the Southbank Centre in London that shares art and ideas from Africa and the African diaspora with audiences in the UK. In this time they have shared their respective experiences and approaches presenting perspectives on Africa through a multi-arts festival with the intention to create a fashion-driven, mixed-art form collaboration at both festivals in 2018.

Through a focus on multiple art forms and experiences, Africa Nouveau intends to showcase innovative, sustainable and creative urban cultures that break barriers and stir the collective conscious of a connected world. This year’s edition takes place at Small World Country Club in Athi River from the 2nd – 4th February 2018 and will explore the theme Afro Bubble Gum. This movement sets out to demonstrate that art from Africa is fun, fierce, and frivolous.

Festivals are a melting pot of skills sharing, artistic expression, and the celebration of culture. East Africa has a thriving events sector with unique festivals taking root across the region, and the UK has a long tradition of both enormous and intricate festivals. Through collaborative working British Council believes creatives in both regions can grow their skills and contribute positively to their festival sectors, strengthening their ability to share art, ideas and cultures with diverse audiences.

Fashion is an important thread that weaves through the festival. On 31st January 2018 Africa Nouveau will host a skills and networking session that, through discussion, will explore how designers can sell their work and tell better brand stories. At the festival, the team will create a vibrant fashion installation that will host designers, make-up artists, salon pop-ups and live fashion shoots.

A first for Africa Nouveau, the live shoot will see designers, photographers, and stylists from Ethiopia, Kenya and the UK develop and co-produce concepts around the Afro-Bubblegum theme. Alex Ropes co-founder and Creative Director at the popular British streetwear brand Basement Approved, will collaborate on the shoot as a photographer and director. Alex has partnerships with Converse, Nike and Adidas and is a tastemaker shaping the future of fashion, art, music and politics in South London through several projects in his community.  Also collaborating on the live shoot is British designer Georgina Johnson who has a distinct visual identity and works in the intersection between art/ fashion/ publishing. Her luxury contemporary womenswear brand, Laundry Service is set on challenging the way, shape, silhouette and style are viewed. Georgina will bring to the team creative direction, styling and development of the installations on set.

Finally, a group of dynamic content creators will take an online course in digital marketing tailor-made for creatives by the London College of Communication; a pioneering world leader in creative communications education. On completion, the team will work together to explore stories about fashion, music, film and food at Africa Nouveau.

Muthoni Ndonga, Creative Director says “We are excited to bring together artists from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and The UK to create collaboratively and in so doing, create the opportunity for peer – to- peer learning and creation of new genre bending works.”

British Council’s Head of Arts East Africa, Rocca Gutteridge says “Festivals are a dynamic meeting point of cultures, ideas and opportunities. The British Council’s East Africa Arts programme is proud to be working with Africa Nouveau Festival, to witness artists creating new art together through cross-continental connections, and to showcase this new art to audiences across East Africa and afar.”

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