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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, curators, and arts managers, offering a strong foundation in conceptual art practices, 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 and cultural workers 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 intensive theoretical modules, exchanges with International Artists in Residence, and regular mentorship sessions facilitated by professional Tanzanian artists and curators, many of whom are Nafasi Alumni members.


As a PLATFORM – Nafasi Academy provides exhibition and showcase opportunities where the artists’ and curators’ 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 each Academy programme, the student members receive ongoing support, opportunities, and mentorship as the become Nafasi Studio Members or establish themselves as professional artists and arts organizers in Dar es Salaam and across the country.



2021 Nafasi Academy Curriculum:

Module 1: The Curator and the Self

What is the role of the curator? Why are they important to art? How do we understand criticality, subjectivity, bias and point of view in curation and arts management?

Module 2: The Curator in Space and Time

Why do we need a historical and spatial understanding and vision in order to curate? What are the implications of colonial and neo-colonial social, economic, political, and cultural realities in contemporary curating in Tanzania and Africa? How do we explore digital space and analog time? How to engage the utopian imagination in curation, creating the future by imagining other worlds and realities?

Module 3: The Curator and the Artist

How do curators and artists coexist to deepen discourse, understanding, awareness, and connection? How does a curator or arts manager help foster creativity? How does one build curatorial concepts around art and artists? How does one care for art and develop mutual relationships of trust and communication with artists as a curator/arts manager?

Module 4: The Curator and the Audience

What experience of art do we want to create? How does the curator think about audience and the public? How can one curate for inclusion, access and participation? How to curators and arts managers contribute to sustainable and resilient art spaces, programmes, and institutions? What are the political, economic, social and spiritual connections between community, curation, and transformation? How does one professionalize a curatorial practice and make a career in the arts?

Technical Mentorships:

Analysis and Critique

Arts Administration

Art as Community Practice

Research Methods and Concept Development

Art History and Contemporary Context (via the Invisible Hands Curatorial Talks Series)


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?

Technical Mentorships:

Concept Development

Drawing / Illustration




Digital & Video Art

Movement / Performance Art