aapron


Our History

African Arts Promotion Network (AAPRON) is a non-profit organization in development.  AAPRON was founded in 2010 and officially registered in Kenya in March 23rd 2013. AAPRON has expanded operations to cover other regions of Africa by engaging creative artists from many parts of the continent. Countries already involved include the host, Kenya and Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda Burundi, South Africa, Egypt, Zimbabwe and Ghana. From elsewhere in the world, AAPRON has attracted artists from the USA, German, UK, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovak, China, South Korea and India. This is made possible through a creative arts program named “African Stones Talk: International Sculpture Symposium” (AST). The previous five AST Symposia were held for one month each in Kisii County, but works produced were in a traveling exhibition — Art-on-Wheels, which ended at the Kenya Railway Museum in Nairobi. However, all future traveling exhibitions will be restricted to western Kenya due to limited financial and logistical issues.

AST Symposia has attracted professional artists and cultural practitioners from around the globe. To date more than 20 countries and 250 participants have taken part in the five previous symposia since 2010.

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CEO

Partnerships with Community Organizations:
In Kenya, AAPRON focuses on community-based organizations to promote art, commercial handcrafts, the performing arts and sports (long distance athletics) and other cultural activities such as music and dance, poetry, drama and story-telling.
Benefits: — These approaches have benefited small and marginalized groups engaged in creative cultural industries. These achievements are made possible by exposure to opportunities for markets, technical training and skills improvements, exchange programs & exposure to professional development. Partnerships and collaborations are with like-minded local (national) and international women, men, youths and organizations. The approach has enabled us to invite highly qualified professionals to participate in our previous symposia. We offer generous support to selected participants only when we are well sponsored ourselves.
—In other countries, AAPRON is engaging practicing artists and gifted artisans to participate in AAPRON’s bi-annual international symposium — the “African Stones Talk: International Stone Sculpture Symposium and a three days’ Cultural Conference and Festival held at the end of the Symposium.

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Tourism:Successful applicants spend one month in Kisii County producing stone sculptures on a predetermined themes. This gives the professionals an opportunity for sharing knowledge, skills and cultural values with fellow participants from many countries and with Kenya as host. This is in line with UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on “Diversity of Cultural Expressions”. Participants are also afforded an opportunity to tour areas of western Kenya with touristic and cultural attractions. The sculptures produced during AST are left behind as permanent collections of the Elkana Ong’esa Museum, Kisii and as cultural heritage and touristic attractions in Kisii County. The value of the pieces already in stock at ELKOM Center is quite high, and culturally very valuable.      

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AAPRON

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Stone Sculpture in East Africa:
After conducting the first two AST symposiums under DEPCONS, it was noted that DEPCONS as a local community organization would not be able to handle complex international programs due to its limited capacity. Therefore on 23rd March 2013, AAPRON was registered as an NGO in Kenya to continue with the role of developing and spreading knowledge and technical skills in stone carving in Kenya and all over Edast Africa. The AST program is extending understanding of traditional stone carving in East Africa, which was limited to the Kisii region of Kenya, and the Karamoja areas of north-eastern Uganda near Mt. Moroto.  The Kisii artisans used a unique type of soapstone, and in Karamoja (Uganda), soapstone, rose marble, quartz, and weathered granite were used. 
The ELKOM program has a bigger agenda to revive and promote the dying stone carving heritage. It is also concerned with the greater potential for exchange of relevant cultural expressions and multifaceted research on the history of human migrations and creative activities in the region. On stone art technologies in ancient times in East Africa, recent field researches by Dr. David Coulson, the late Dr. Osaga Odak, Mr. Elkana Ong’esa, among others, has revealed various art forms that are adding to theAfrican stones talkagenda of the past, present and in future.  
—In the long term therefore, this AST’s shift in organizational focus from local to international would result into more professionalism in sculpture, fine handicrafts, self-employment opportunities, tourism in Kenya and East Africa at large.
—The program would also increase awareness of locally available technical skills, natural resources, tools and equipment, expertise in sculpture and handcrafts. It would also research on the potential of local and export markets, plus how these would translate into domestic and international cultural tourism.

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AAPRON

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Other Social & Economic Benefits:
AAPRON is active in mobilizing resources to support community participation in health, security, climate change and environmental protection initiatives. Other activities include education, research, training in art, product design and development, tree planting, artisanal agribusiness, commercial scale bee keeping in the Tabaka area, plus wildlife conservation through art and culture initiatives.

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AAPRON

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Women, youth and children are covered in the broad socio-economic empowerment through stone sculpture and other forms of traditional creative cultural industries. A new and global scale professional engagement of creative hands is being brought into the   bigger picture of stone carving with hither to absent gender dynamics. Traditionally, women in Kisii were not allowed to do stone carving because of heavy engagements in social and economic activities at family level.
Times have changed and women are now spending more time in cultural creative activities and academic pursuits. AAPRON is spearheading the revolution that will change the artistic landscape in the years to come. The children of Mr. Elkana’s daughters  and his other relatives were engaged in stone sculpture before they moved to live elsewhere in the world. His niece, Miriam Okondo, participated in three AST symposiums and one of her modernistic sculptures is in the collection of Strathmore University in Nairobi West.
There are a number of other women in Tabaka area including Peninah Abuya, Pamella Otieno and Rose Biyaki who have been producing soapstone and granite sculptures under the influence of AST Symposium  program. ELKOM has strategically provided them with exposition space.           
—The engagement of women in creative economic activities has also led to human rights awareness, political and economic empowerment, leadership roles and good governance among rural women. A lot has been achieved in sponsorships and by working in partnership/collaboration with different international, national and community organizations. The Government of Kenya, through grassroots programs such as women and youth empowerment funds has created opportunities for women to participate in creative arts activities. AAPRON has also provided collaborative training and skill development in art appreciation and marketing to further the initiatives.  

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AAPRON

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Previous Achievements & Future Plans:Based on the above view points, AST Symposia experienced unexpected, tremendous achievements and greater responses from creative artists and sponsors from around the globe. From 2010 to 2014 we received financial and in-kind support from local Kenyans, US Embassy in Nairobi, UNESCO International Fund for Diversity of Cultural Expressions (IFCD), Lambent Foundation of New York, Prince Claus Fund from the Netherlands, among others. 
Other major achievements from that period include the establishment of the ELKOM Museum, Kisii, staging of the five (5) AST symposia and cultural festivals, several training workshops for:  Story Telling, Stone Carvers, Awareness training workshop for Conservation of Kisii Rock Art Sites” heldat Ogembo Town in Kisii County, and an Exhibition in Paris, France during the 2nd Kenya Week at UNESCO Festival. Elkana Ong’esa was invited as Keynote Artist at the event.  

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AAPRON

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Organizational  Structures:
AAPRON has a Management Board of five members, the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Chair, plus one member attending in Ex-Officio capacity and representing ELKOM.  In a year the Board meets three times, or more depending on pressing issues at hand. The Chair presides over all Board meetings, and in his absence he is deputized by the Vice Chair. Board minutes are taken and kept and read by the Secretary during   Board meetings. The Executive Committee is comprised of the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer plus one Board Member. The first three are also signatories to AAPRON’s official documents, including Bank Accounts.

 Besides the Board, AAPRON has a staff of five personnel handling day to day matters. Their chain of command ranges from the Manager on top followed by an Accountant, Office Administrator, Office Assistant and a Security Guard.

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AAPRON

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International Networks:  AAPRON is well networked around the globe. It has previous contacts among likeminded individuals and organizations with which ideas, activities and programs are exchanged and implemented. They include UNESCO in Paris, cooperatives of Inuit artisans in Canada and members of the Kenyan Diaspora associations in USA and Australia.    

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