The Covid-19 pandemic had a sudden and devastating impact on the artistic and cultural sector. All over the world, most cultural institutions have had to radically curtail their activities, cancelling exhibitions and performances, or even closing indefinitely. The artists and creators who make their living in these spaces have suffered from the loss of income; no less so musicians, who rely on summer festivals, gigs and weddings to make a living.
One such group of artists is the West African music community in the UK, who have seen their income decimated. These musicians who, even in the best of times, operate in an adverse contractual environment with little or no security, now have scant access to financial assistance, or alternative means of employment or income during this pandemic.
At the same time, Artificial Intelligence is enjoying a period of unprecedented success, as demand for automation surges across many industries as a result of Covid-19. And this is why we, a small group of AI experts with a love of the arts, decided to bring the two worlds together and create the world’s first AI and African music festival.
Thought leaders in AI, whose names are recognised across the globe, are supporting the festival and will feature as speakers in a series of talks that we hope will unlock this thrilling, often controversial, area of emerging technology. We hope to showcase the bards’ beautiful music, while informing and educating anyone who is interested in AI. The proceeds generated by ticket sales will go firstly to pay the artists what they normally would charge for gigs, and any surplus will be used for education initiatives in the West African community in London, focusing on English language and technology skills development.