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The Nafasi Academy for Contemporary Art, Expression, and Inclusion aims to improve and strengthen access to cultural rights in Tanzania by serving as a learning programme for emerging artists, offering a strong foundation in conceptual art practice, opportunities for artistic exchange and collaboration, and space to create and exhibit their work.

The Academy is situated on the southern end of Nafasi’s large compound, and is built from damaged shipping containers from the Dar es Salaam port that have been refurbished and outfitted according to the needs of the artists and programme.


As a SPACE – Nafasi Academy consists of three artist studios, a large classroom, a reading library, a large production workshop, an art supply shop, an exhibition gallery, and an amphitheatre-style cinema space. The centre has been designed via a co-creative process involving the input of the community and is continuously ‘built’ through the ongoing engagement of Student Members participating in its programming.


As an ACADEMY + EXCHANGE – Nafasi Academy is a training programme for aspiring and emerging artists from underrepresented communities that aims to equip small cohorts of Student Members with the tools, knowledge, and skills critical to creating meaningful work and integrating into local and international art communities.

The ‘question-based’ programme samples from successful community-minded art school curricula – and takes the form of 5 intensive theoretical modules, 3 exchanges with International Artists in Residence, and daily mentorship sessions facilitated by professional Tanzanian artists, many of whom are Nafasi Alumni members.


As a PLATFORM – Nafasi Academy provides exhibition and showcase opportunities where the artists’ work can be seen by the public and lead to conversation and critique, fostering and promoting social dialogue through artistic expression.

At the end of the 8-month programme, the Academy student members will have the opportunity to apply for studio membership at Nafasi Art Space and become full members in order to contribute to the Nafasi community and establish themselves as professional artists in Dar es Salaam.



2020 Nafasi Academy Curriculum:

Module 1: Orientation / Intro to Nafasi Academy + Contemporary Art

What is Nafasi? Why does it exist? What is Contemporary Art? Why does it matter? Why do you want to become an artist? What is the role of art in society? What is the goal of Nafasi Academy, and what do we hope will be the outcomes at the end of this year for students, the academy, and Nafasi as a whole?

Module 2: Global and African Art History

What is the history and evolution of African and global art, and how does Tanzania fit (or not) into local and international narratives of artmaking and visual culture? Who are the older Tanzanian artists that younger artists should be able to reference? How do the students see their art as a part of (or breaking from) the historical conversation? Where can we look to learn about and understand our own history of art?

Module 3: Research, Concept Development in Contemporary Art Practice

Now that you have some idea of where you are coming from, and where you want to go, how do you get there? How do you figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it? Once you have an idea, how do you explore it and bring it into being? What else has been said on this topic before, and how do you say it in a new way? What different processes and media are possible and how do you choose which one(s) to pursue? What is the nature of the artistic process?

Module 4: Public Art, Activism, Art as Community Engagement

Who is art for? How does it affect society? How can it do good things once it is created — whether its asking difficult questions, inspiring others, raising awareness, changing behaviours, etc? What is public art, or how can art be made public? Are artists (or can/should they be) activists? How can art be seen as community engagement/dialogue? How do we think about and engage with audience? What is the relationship between art and life? What is the responsibility of the artist?

Module 5: Professional Development & Entrepreneurship

Throughout the first four modules, you have thought about what art is, why you want to be an artist, how you want to create your work, and how you can share it with the public. But how do you turn this knowledge into a professional career? What does it mean to be a professional artist, and what opportunities and challenges will you face? How can you connect your art to the local, regional, and international art scene? What are the basic tools you need to apply for residencies, exhibition opportunities, etc?