Priti Devi, Vice-President of the Creative World, talks to Naomi Meyer about the Freedom to Create Festival

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The Freedom to Create came to Cape Town this year, celebrating all the world’s freedom to be creative. Because LitNet supports freedom in the arts, Naomi Meyer asked Priti Devi – who carries the lovely title of Vice-President of the Creative World – about this year’s festival, which concluded with the Freedom to Create awards in Kirstenbosch on 19th November.

Mpendulo Yawa, Deion Meyer, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Priti Devi, Pieter Cronjé and Rachel Gadsden.

Priti, we are all very excited about the Freedom to Create Festival. Please tell us how the idea originated. And what is this festival about?

Priti Devi

Thank you for getting in touch with us. We are delighted to be here in Cape Town to celebrate the 2011 Freedom to Create awards and share with the people of Cape Town, our mission to build a world flourishing with everyone’s creativity. Freedom to Create was established in 2006 to harness the power of arts and culture to build more creative and prosperous societies. We focus on encouraging creative expression in places where our efforts can have the largest impact on intolerance and conflict. Each year we award the Freedom to Create Prize to an extraordinary individual who has used his or her talent to address a social issue that impacts the flourishing of communities in a country. The Freedom to Create Prize celebrates the courage and creativity of these artists around the world who use their talent to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit.

Throughout the week leading up to the awards ceremony and concert we have conducted workshops with celebrated creative arts experts as facilitators for groups of individuals and students from the more disadvantaged communities, to inspire them and encourage them to use their creative talents and build opportunities for themselves. We believe that all individuals are inherently talented and if provided an opportunity can use that talent to build prosperity for themselves, their families and their communities. These workshops are also an opportunity for participating artists to showcase their talent to new audiences.

Which was first, the chicken or the egg: Were you inspired because of all the creative people in South Africa and therefore started the festival, or did you try to stimulate people’s interest in the arts and that was how the festival was conceptualised?

We have been inspired by creative people all across the world, but we recognise that everyone gets the opportunity to build on that talent. Our hope is to try to provide every individual with an enabling environment where they can build on their creative talents and find opportunities to flourish.

Female Empowerment Forum

What is your personal favourite at this year’s festival?

I made it a rule not to have any personal favourite because every participant has something unique and special, and the messages that they depict through their work are all so powerful. All Freedom to Create participants deserve to be recognizes and celebrated for their courage and creativity.

We hear a buzz about the Fan Walk in Cape Town turning into a Freedom Walk. Please tell us more.

Yes, the Freedom Walk project sounds an extremely interesting project and is the brainchild, I believe, of Cape Town Tourism and the Mayor’s Office. It fits so perfectly with our mission to use creativity as a means to engage communities, build inclusivity and invite dialogue and awareness on key social issues.

Is this Freedom to Create an event we can look forward to next year as well?

We are always open to ideas and opportunities that allow us to build long-term relationships. Our experience in Cape Town has been special and having experienced the depth of creativity across all segments of society here, and the opportunity to build greater inclusivity through creative use of the arts, it would be wonderful to return to Cape Town.

Rape Crisis workshop with Thembi Mtshali-Jones
Theatre workshop
Freedom to Create in action


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