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Matthias Leridon, Co-Chair of African Artists for Development, awarded

The 2014 Prix de la Francophonie Turgot was awarded to Volume III of the book Prévention des crises et promotion de la paix (Crisis Prevention and Peacebuilding), published in 2013 by Bruylant and edited by Jean-Pierre Vettoraglia.

Among the prestigious co-authors of this volume on “Determinants of Conflict and New Forms of Prevention” is Matthias Leridon, Tilder Chairman, and Co-Chair of the African Artists for Development Endowment Fund.

The Prize will be awarded to the authors on 20 March by Bernard Cazeneuve, Delegated Minister of Budget, French Ministry for the Economy and Finance. Abdou Diouf, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of French-speaking Communities, emphasises in the preface to the book that, “only an understanding of the determinants of crises and conflicts will help to avoid their recurrence.” More and more conflicts arise from cultural and religious differences; in this context, culture is not only a determinant of conflicts, it can also become a means of participating in their resolution and a tool for mediation.

It is the role that contemporary artistic creation plays in mediating conflicts that Matthias Leridon, co-president of African Artists for Development (AAD), highlights in the chapter “Artists, emissaries of peace”. With reference to the experience of several AAD programmes, Matthias Leridon shows that it is possible to bring populations in conflict into the realm of art to help them overcome suffering, tensions, and recover both the value of the individual and the meaning of the universal.

The Refugees on the Move programme is a great example. It involves contemporary African choreographers in UNHCR refugee camps in Chad, Central Africa, Burundi, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. As the AAD co-president points out, this project is, “a great laboratory for experimenting with the introduction of artistic practice to people directly wounded by war, and the virtuous dynamics it creates.”

Working with refugees is only part of African Artists for Development’s remit; the fund uses contemporary culture and creativity in all projects that work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In 2013, these actions benefited more than one million Africans. This unique approach has impressed both the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations, which has granted AAD consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

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