Experiencing German Technical Cooperation in the Kenya Gig Economy Project.

By George Robert Asewe Dj Probert Founder & CEO

2021 was a difficult year for many Kenyans. Covid shattered businesses & jobs. The Gig economy was sent home packing. No performances. No gatherings. Most of us had not heavily invested in digital infrastructure the way we are doing in 2022.

For me, it was even more devastating because in August of that year I lost my father and grandmother. First, it was my grandmother and two days later my dad. I couldn’t believe it.

I took some time off work to get my head straight and take care of my mother who had been married to my dad for over 40 years. She had known my grandmother for 59 years. Suddenly she was alone. I had tried severally to even record a DJ mix and I couldn’t.

It was during this sad time of my life that I stumbled upon a very interesting opportunity for gig economy professionals. As an IP junkie involved in training and capacity development of creative professionals, I am always on the lookout for creative opportunities to learn more about the gig economy as I build The Music Advocate Africa as a center of creative excellence in creative business.

Acknowledgment @GigDynamics  @giz_gmbh, #GIZ Kenya @goetheinstitut   @Goethe_Kenya  @muthoniDQ  @ADMIafrica  @SanturiProject  @fakugesi   #CreativeKE   @TU_Kenya  @khmkoeln  @dadatrust_ke  @OnaStories  @OnaKesho @BlackRhinoVR  @traininglantern   @HEVAFund   @MeyerSound @bodo_immink @DW_GMF @Wikipedia

Having worked in the Kenya Cultural Scene I understand the importance of commendation, recognition & acknowledgement. I, therefore, wish to dedicate this article to Goethe Institute & Gig Dynamics.  

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Project on Culture & Creative Industries (CCI) is mutually implemented by GIZ and Goethe-Institute and various actors including Gig Dynamics a Kenyan Entertainment Company.

Why the Acknowledgement & Recognition?

In November 2021, Goethe Institute in collaboration with gig dynamics organized a very unique event. It was the first of a kind in my view.

It was a practical training opportunity that brought together various gig economy professionals to learn what happens behind the scenes before a live performance.

It was a two-day event that opened my gig eyes and gave me practical experience in the world of riggers, sound engineers, mixers, and a vast number of gig professionals responsible for setting up the infrastructure necessary for a live performance. 

The Program is run by two brilliant energetic German Professionals. Susanne Gerhard and Maria Parker are responsible for rolling out Global Project Jenga CCI programs in Kenya. They have a very fresh and intriguing drive to turn round the fortunes of the Kenya entertainment industry.

What is Jenga CCI – Global Project on Culture and Creative Industries (CCI)?

 On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Project on Culture and Creative Industries (CCI) is mutually implemented by GIZ and Goethe-Institute and is active in 6 countries.

It has been looking into innovative support models for actors in the cultural field. According to the project, CCI creates jobs and strengthens non-monetary values that contribute to inclusive and sustainable development, innovation and creativity, attractiveness, and perspectives for young people.

In Kenya, JENGA CCI – Global Project Culture and Creative Industries aims at sustainable development and facilitation of the culture and creative industries through integrative educational and funding strategies as well as promotion of advocacy.

Jenga CCI Programs in Kenya

perform

Jenga CGI has collaborated with Muthoni The Drummer Queen of Muthoni Music to develop perFORM which is a 9 – 12-weeks live performance and music business incubation program. It aims at providing an enabling environment for artists to conceptualize, rehearse and showcase well-developed live shows.

Copyright property of Muthoni Drummer Queen Twitter Page

SOTA

State of the Art (SOTA) is a joint initiative between Goethe-Institut Kenya and BlackRhinoVR that sets out to use immersive technologies to change the way art is created and experienced.

SOTA aims at developing a curriculum that includes a training guide, tutorials, explanation videos, and annotated content that creates a relationship between virtual and augmented reality.

woman using virtual reality goggles

They also impart soft skills including business development, communication, proposal writing, digital marketing strategies, and tools).

BlackRhinoVR describes itself as an award-winning Extended Reality (XR) agency that creates bespoke VR & AR solutions and content which are relevant and adaptable to the African Market.

DW Global Media Forum did a story on Extended reality agency BlackRhino VR which specializes in creating virtual and augmented reality content and solutions tailored for the African market. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the company holds workshops, hackathons and master classes. It also has a structured school that trains women in immersive technology free of charge.

Artworlds

Artworlds a distance-learning podcast that is a co-production between the School of Arts and Technology (SCAT) of the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and the research group “Netze” of the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (KHM) facilitated by the Goethe-Institut Kenya.

The podcast is based on interviews with individuals who are successfully navigating the terrain of the global artworlds and offers invaluable ideas and insights borne out of their personal experiences and journeys.

positive black woman talking to radio host

Each season consists of 8 to 10 episodes, with the process allowing access to a broad range of interviewees and fostering an emerging partnership between the two co-producing institutions.

Two staff members (1 to supervise content, 1 to work on production) and 4 to 10 students from each institution work together to produce a season during the Industry Based Learning semester. Students learn both the practical and the conceptual sides of producing a podcast.

Because the German educational system emphasizes practical vocational skills, during Covid, they also ran a resilience program whose main aim was to provide capacity building to cultural entrepreneurs and professionals who were hard hit during Covid.

Goethe-Institut Kenya, in partnership with DADA Trust and BlackRhino VR, developed a training program to enable female filmmakers and creatives to expand their general skill set in the field of VR/360° Filmmaking as a resilience measure to cope with the pandemic.

The training consisted of 16 women and ran for 2 months with students going through two intensive masterclasses: 360 Film Production and an introductory Immersive Journalism course.

phone recording video of talking women

The training culminated with a three-day showcase of the student’s final productions, accompanied by a thorough framework program session alongside the showcase itself.

Santuri Electronic Music Academy (SEMA)

Because the music sector is one of the sectors which was most affected by the pandemic, with the cancellation of numerous live events and the closing of music venues many practitioners within this sector found themselves stranded.

In partnership with Santuri East Africa, Suzanne & Maria led efforts in the development of a hybrid training program to enable musicians to improve their technical skillset and venture into different music production methods other than live performing.

The aim was also for people in the music sector to better cope with a changing scene during the times of the pandemic.

Cultural professionals who have gone through this program have now acquired knowledge and skills in music production and distribution to access new markets and audiences. They have also been trained on how to generate additional revenue through a diversified portfolio.

Santuri awarding its students.

ADMI – Digital Media Incubator

The Germans have also partnered with Africa Digital Media Institute, which is a leading training institution in the field of creative media in Kenya.

In partnership with GIZ, its Global Project on Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI), had the main aim of building the capacity of young digital creators to develop and sell their cultural products on the online marketplace.

The goal of the project is to equip Kenya’s young creatives, specifically 2D animators, music artists, music producers, and sound engineers, to make, promote, and sell products online.

Germany recognizes that Creatives were especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as many were cut off from their livelihoods by the government lockdowns.

The 6-month incubator program included practical technical training, distribution support, and masterclasses in Music Production, Music Artist Development, 2D Animation, and Podcasting.

The Rubika 2D Animation Certificate course equips students with the skills they need to fill the growing global demand for skilled animators. Students are taught by lecturers from both ADMI and Rubika in France.

Fak´ugesi – DigiIntermediaries Bootcamp

The idea of less theoretical training and more practical is also evident in their boot camps.

One of their unique Bootcamp aimed less at training and more at claiming and framing is dedicated to finding ways to sustainably grow the Digital Creative Industries in Africa and framing the roles, needs, and ecosystem of intermediaries in the digital gaming and immersive media sectors through providing the participants with an opportunity to participate in modules that focused on: Understanding the Value Chain,  Monetization & Customers, including new & emergent streams, Partnerships, Content & IP and finally,   Mobilizing Governments, Policy & Advocacy.

How do you shape policy without practical knowledge? This is a commendable policy development effort. The DigiIntermediaries Bootcamp is a GIZ initiative in partnership with the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, aiming to foster COVID-19 resilience of the digital creative industries in ensuring that digital creatives and intermediaries can both maintain and increase access and visibility with online and digitally led methodologies.

Soft Skills Training

Due to the digital transformation caused by Covid, the shift to digital, presentation of work and services online became a practical challenge for many Kenyan creatives and artists.

To enhance their capacity to market their work and increase incomes, JENGA CCI in partnership with Lantern Training organized Soft Skills training for various groups of creatives and artists.

The training focuses on developing an entrepreneurial mindset for artists and creatives who learn different skill sets to uplift their business strategies including how to tell their stories through writing skills, how to engage their audience through communication skills, and monetizing their work among others. They have also partnered with Heva Fund to roll out several business training sessions for the creative economy. This requires recognition and acknowledgment.

EXPERIENCE ATTENDING THE OPEN HOUSE 21/22 TECH EDITION

This is the icing on the cake for music junkies like me.  Goethe-Institut’s Jenga CCI Project also aims to take steps toward linking and training event techs, engineers, and stagehands in Kenya, to meet professional needs, while at the same time enhancing the pool of relevant skills in Kenya.

This is the motivation of the program and that’s why they collaborated with Gig Dynamics to customize, and tailor makes a practical course for the Kenya Live Music Market. Salute. This deserves commendation, recognition, and acknowledgment.

Who is Gig Dynamics?

Gig Dynamics is a professional backline, sound, and technical support company that seeks to address the need for quality sound for all kinds of events in the local market. At Gig Dynamics, they pride themselves on providing the best gear and technical expertise for your event.

With a wide range of technical services currently available under one roof and backed by some of the most creative minds in the business, they will be proud to partner with you in achieving the best possible results for your event.

We are proud to be associated with this entertainment brand.

Gig Dynamics is a professional backline, sound and technical support company that seeks to address the need for quality sound for all kinds of events in the local market.

Analysis of the Course

As a DJ I attended the training session with a lot of background knowledge of music & scratching records. I have been in the gig economy for a while. I however had never attended a training event with people who I now consider the most important in the live gig value chain.

First, less theory and more practicals were the themes of the various training units we had to cover over two days.

In terms of the design of the program, it was engaging and exciting. On the first day, we were taken through an early morning session between 8 and 10 am where the Gig Dynamics team took us through the various issues live gig professionals encounter when organizing a live event.

Brief Theory Class Before Practicals

The room was full of sound engineers who were shooting questions containing technical terms that even I as a DJ couldn’t understand. However, the Gig dynamics crew did their best to break down and simplify everything technical.

They were very friendly, professional, practical, and knowledgeable.

Shortly after the 10 o’clock tea break, it was time to get into the practical phase of things. The next time you see a live performance stage, just remember it took hundreds of people 2-3 days to set it up. We were a large group probably between 70-100 professionals on both days.

We were segmented into various groups learning different aspects of organizing a live gig. I was interested in sound engineering. I love speakers coupled with the fact that I am an audiophile. An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.

According to Wikipedia, an audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance, typically in a room with good acoustics. Some of the participants were interested in lighting, others in visuals, and others were either riggers setting up trusses or sound.

It was a great learning experience for me and the many participants who honored the free training call.

Recognition and acknowledgment are warranted here because the design of the two-day program was brilliant. I hope this article inspires more brilliant projects like this because of their practical nature.

Several months after attending the training, the practical skills are still ingrained in me because I learned by doing. I saw. I touched. I felt. I participated.

I became part of a community of young gig economy professionals seeking to connect and thrive in the live performance sector.

Day two was equally very exciting. I loved day two the most because this is when we started to set up the speakers. I love creating sound. I love speakers. I love music. Gig Dynamics brought out the double 18s.  You see a double 18 is simply a subwoofer with two 18-inch speakers.

They produce an earth-shattering base and make music sound so good. Gig dynamics brought Melodie speakers. Melodie is a product by Meyer sound an American speaker-manufacturer.

Gig Dynamics went all out. We had on set 6 double 18’s a variety of speakers. The riggers continued setting up lights and screens as me and my sound cohorts were taken through the entire life cycle of sound.

Gig dynamics gave very practical advice which I still remember to date. For instance, we were advised based on their years of experience that it is not a smart thing for performers to perform with the equipment they have no practical experience with.

When gig dynamics are retained to provide live sound services, the companies contracting them usually send information that ends up being used to generate a patch list which is simply an itemized list of all the equipment needed for the gig.

The list can be as simple as a microphone and two speakers. It can also have hundreds of items for a gig. For example, a 10-member band will require various instruments and support equipment.

Because every artistic professional has an innate dream instrument they want to acquire, Gig dynamics has experienced situations where they deliver equipment requested by the talent who can’t competently play the instrument.

The take-home here was that fans will not remember which instrument brand you were playing. They will however remember a disastrous performance.

For sound enthusiasts like me, it was refreshing to understand the challenges associated with poor-quality cables, managing power & electricity, and caring for equipment.

You risk blowing your speakers or causing electrical damage to equipment if you have unreliable power sources amplified by low-quality cables.

The training ended with live performances by various artists. It was the perfect end to a two-day training. The second edition of the  open house was held in February 2022.

Lawyer, Song Writer, Rapper & Performer Aurie performed with her band

Thank you, Gig Dynamics & Goethe Institut Kenya. This training affirmed the following things to us, and Kenyan citizens should take note of the following:

Practical vocational training programs such as Jenga CGI address industrial & cultural problems associated with the lack of experience and opportunities for millions of creative professionals in Kenya.

Collaboration is the key to a successful gig economy in Kenya.

Sound Check Before Live Performance

Training is caring especially when it is delivered at no cost to the participants over two days. This is commendable, especially at a time when the creative economy was hit hard by Covid.

Germany is an important cultural partner for Kenya and Africa because they are replicating this kind of engagement in 6 other African countries.

Gig dynamics truly understand the dynamics of organizing a live gig. Companies such as this have a critical role in sharing knowledge with disadvantaged groups in the creative sector and we are proud to be associated with Gig Dynamics sound & training.

Over 80 percent of cultural industry training content should be practical. The theory is important and that’s why such programs target established and aspiring gig economy professionals. Because of YouTube, we are well versed in theory education.

Kenyans want more practical learning.

In life you need generous friends who become family at some point. Germany is not only a great friend to Kenya. It is a member of the Kenyan family.

Goethe Institut Kenya newly renovated library

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) deserves accolades for various economic empowerment programs they run in Kenya and Africa. This is practical cooperation. Not theoretical cooperation.

If you are considering setting up education networks the way The Music Advocate Africa is doing, practical training is the way to go. Let’s emerge from Covid bolder, stronger & digitally wise.

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