How does one attempt to revive a sense of life and vibrancy in conflict zones such as Somalia and Sudan? How does one revive wonder and imagination in a fragmented region like the Middle East? How does creativity help revive a sense of freedom among the imprisoned? The Creativity Pioneers Fund coalition knows the answer lies in funding the spaces where creativity can flourish.
Aiming to democratize creative skills so they are not just capabilities wielded by the lucky and the wealthy, BIC Foundation and the Moleskine Foundation, together with a coalition of partners from various sectors awarded €5,000 grants (Ksh 785,000) to 54 small organizations worldwide that are using creativity to catalyze social change.
From climate change to gender equality, from human rights to quality education and migration, Creativity Pioneers are confronting the world’s most pressing issues, and is a boon of opportunity, networking, and visibility for its recipients.
Access to funding represents only a starting point for a larger collaboration system, towards a platform model where the BIC Foundation and its partners act as ecosystem builders.
The community of Creativity Pioneers provides the grantees with access to more funding, in-kind and know-how support, mentoring and learning opportunities, peer-to-peer exchange, and networking.
Since its inception in 2021, The Creativity Pioneers Fund has awarded grants to 101 organizations crossing 40 countries. The 2023 edition received over 800 applications from 111 different countries.
Italy was the country submitting more applications, followed by South Africa, Nigeria, the US, and Kenya.
After a selection process that lasted four months and involved experts, partners, and organizations from the past cohorts as evaluators, 54 new Creativity Pioneers were announced. Out of the recipients, 70pc operate in large metropolitan areas, while the other 30pc are divided among medium, small cities, and rural areas.
Of this year’s Creativity Pioneers, 40pc have an operating annual budget lower than EUR 50,000 (Ksh 7.8M), including 9pc below EUR 10,000 (Ksh 1.6M) per year, highlighting how underfunded the creativity for social change sector is.
One third of the organizations were founded less than three years ago, confirming Creativity Pioneers Fund’s attention to new realities. They represent the diverse perspectives and experiences that the Fund wants to elevate.
Two of the organizations who have benefited from Kenya include, Book Bunk Trust and the Macondo Book Society. Book Bunk is an entity that has been working since 2018 to restore some of Nairobi’s most iconic public libraries into inclusive and usable spaces, heritage sites, public art, collective memory, knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership, and information exchange.
The Macondo Book Society is a Kenyan non-profit organization, which annually holds a literary festival on African histories and futures featured in fictional and non-fictional works. It brings together all its ‘main’ writing language zones in conversations across perceived limitations and barriers for the first time on the continent.
Other grantees range from Guatemala, where Fundaciòn Ixcanul is creating positive impact and social transformations through film. In Nepal, Freedom Studio is strengthening non-violent civic mobilization by integrating art, media, and technology, while Circus Zambia is raising young changemakers through the art of circus.
In Jordan, Seven Hills is using skateboarding as a tool for social and personal development. In Taranto, Italy, a group of architects and designers founded Post Disaster, an organization that aims at changing the dominant narrative about the area through contemporary creative productions.
Adama Sanneh, CEO of Moleskine Foundation, commented: “In 2021, we had a vision to build a global movement of creative minds, thinkers, doers, and change makers partnering with creative and cultural institutions, brands, cultural organizations, and the creative sector at large.
“Three years later over 20 visionary partners have joined the Creativity Pioneers Fund and we can’t be happier to see a growing interest in investing resources, skills, and imagination in the Creativity for Social Change field.”
Alison James, Executive Director of the BIC Foundation, said: “At the BIC Foundation, we strongly believe in the power of creativity as the driver of change and we want to create the most inspiring and innovative pool of creativity makers throughout our society, and to support them to have impact on our world.
As founding partners of the Creativity Pioneers Fund, we are taking our mission one step further, positively impacting in underserved communities at a global scale, while building a community of pioneers that can connect and work better through collaboration.”
The Creativity Pioneers Fund is supported by the Moleskine Foundation, BIC Corporate Foundation, PromozioniServizi, Cherry Bank, Fondazione Marcegaglia, Fondazione Oelle, Community Arts Lab by Porticus, Hawthornden Foundation, BASE, Fondazione con il Sud, Fondazione CRT, Open Society Foundation, The AD Store, MANE, Healthy Food Healthy Planet, DLV BBDO, EMLEX.
Learning partners: Kaospilot, Aurora, Watson Institute, Social Enterprise Open Camp. Network Partners: British Council, European Cultural Foundation.