The question „What is art?“ is one that can be debated extensively and controversially. However, most opinions do agree on one indisputable aspect of art: it engages people‘s hearts rather than their minds. It targets and provokes emotions rather than rational thinking. While the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO is evidently interested in art due to its importance in culture, we see the potential of art going beyond the field of culture. For instance, how art can play a role in other programmes of UNESCO, such as education or sustainable development.
Therefore, on May 5th 2018, Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO hosted an art exhibition titled: eARTh; inspiring action for sustainable development through art. The exhibition linked a display of local art, such as paintings, crafts, animations, sculptures and prints with the question of sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The way in which this was done is twofold: firstly, the displayed art pieces mostly related to particular aspects within the Sustainable Development Goals or one specific goal. Secondly, the National Commission recognised the importance of issues of artists and the art scene in Lesotho for sustainable development. Thus, a panel discussion was hosted on the day of the exhibition with three different topics, all relating to struggles of artists in Lesotho and beyond. The topics discussed were:
Intellectual property right and legal issues in art,
art appreciation and the value of art
digital branding; how to market oneself on the internet and social media.
Three guest speakers were invited to speak on the topics and to encourage a discussion amongst the artists afterwards.
After the panel discussion, the public was invited to Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO to experience the art while engaging with the artists, learn about the SDGs, enjoy music, animations and films as well as self-made cake. Both visitors from Lesotho as well as abroad decided to join us at the Old British Council to witness local art, learn about UNESCO´s programme and to have a good time.
As part of the project: eARTh; inspiring action for sustainable development through art, we hosted an art and recycling workshop for school kids from Methodist High School two weeks later, relating art, education and the environment. We are motivated and committed to carry activities on that program forward and to continue working with local artists.