Malawi Lake of Stars evolves to City of Stars on 10th anniversary

Despite having announced that there’s be no lakeside festival this year, Lake of Stars organisers have announced that, on the event of their 10 year anniversary, they will hosting a brand new city-based festival and arts conference in Lilongwe, Malawi from 27 to 28 September 2013.

According to Lake of Stars founder and director Will Jameson, City of Stars (COS) is a two-day, multi-venue arts festival and conference showcasing the best in emerging and acclaimed talent from Malawi and beyond.

“Featuring an eclectic programme of live music, film, theatre, literature, exhibitions and speakers, it will promote Malawian culture and creativity as well as attracting international artists and arts practitioners,” Jameson said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Monday.

Jameson says of the project’s new festival: “Last year we took a break from producing Lake of Stars to develop new ways to enhance and promote the music, culture and tourism of Malawi, based on our experience and that of local practitioners.  We also secured a state-of-the-art sound system for Malawi that is being used by music charity Rhythm of Life in Lilongwe.

Will Jameson posing with Malawi Finance Minister Ken Lipenga at Lake of Stars
Will Jameson posing with Malawi Finance Minister Ken Lipenga at Lake of Stars

“We’ve always felt, and the feedback we get from global visitors supports this, that the two things that made Lake of Stars such a unique festival were its location and the people of Malawi. We feel that now is the time to celebrate 10 years of Malawian creativity by focusing on the second of these.  We’ll do this by upping the reach and the accessibility of the project, by bringing the experience off the shore and into Lilongwe, the international gateway to the Warm Heart of Africa.”

Will says this year they  are fortunate to have the support of a number of key funding partners including the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi, Lilongwe’s boutique hotel Latitude 13, and Scotland’s David Livingstone 200 Fund.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Asbjørn Eidhammer says “We are proud to support the City of Stars Festival as we know the role cultural tourism may play in raising much needed revenue and foreign currency in Malawi.”

Jameson says: “as well as appointing a Malawian project manager, we are working with Malawian artistic partners including:  Zilanie Nyundo (Blackmore Creatives, CREAM!); Music Crossroads; and Rhythm of Life Malawi.”

Gayighayi Mathews Mfune from Music Crossroads says “City of Stars will feature exhibitors, speakers and workshops that will inspire Malawi’s creative entrepreneurs to build on what they do best; to collaborate, innovate, and create the projects and events that contribute to the development of Malawi.”

Jameson adds that “we have already confirmed international artists The Very Best, Scottish DJ Auntie Flo and spoken word artist George the Poet will shortly be issuing a call out to Malawian and international artists.”

Starting on UN World Tourism Day, City of Stars will launch festival season in Malawi with the Blantyre Arts Festival taking place the weekend after and various Mother Day parties planned around the country.

Jameson says: “We are proud to be part of the growth of festivals now taking place across the country and encourage Malawians and tourists to take advantage of Malawi’s amazing natural and cultural assets.”

Since 2003 the Lake of Stars project has staged an award-winning festival on the shores of Lake Malawi, alongside other events in the UK and across the globe. The project has reached more than 200 million people through international and local media coverage.  It has generated over $3 million spend and 200 employment opportunities in Malawi.

According to Jameson, confirmed artists include Swedish/Malawian pop group The Very Best, Brian d’Souza aka Auntie Flo hails from Goa by way of Glasgow, where he is currently resident DJ at the club Highlife, George the Poet, who is the hottest name in spoken word.

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