How to look at art: Inspiring creativity of young Africans for prosperity

January 25, 2017Alla Tkachuk

Mobile Art School in Kenya (MASK) employs a comprehensive approach to its work in promoting learning for creativity and innovation through art. MASK believes that creativity and innovation are essential and powerful contributors to economic growth and poverty alleviation, but believes that creative education in East African schools is unacceptably limited. MASK operates on the belief that creative learning is an ultimate economic resource and that fostering creative skills in young people is key for increasing job opportunities for youth, promoting peace, eradicating poverty through the development of entrepreneurial skills, and fostering personal growth through increased confidence, motivation and self-esteem.

The article below first appeared in The Star

The MASK Prize, renowned African creativity competition with prizes for schools and young people under the age of 25, has now opened this year’s submissions.

Participants are invited to enter their works online for free in any art medium: from paintings to computer art and performance. The theme is ‘Making a Change’. Any ideas that can improve our lives are accepted. Winners will receive prizes totalling Sh300,000 at an award ceremony on April 27 at the Michael Joseph Art Centre in Nairobi.

arts education international development africa kenya student classroom painting creative skills

The MASK Prize is not a ‘usual’ art competition. The entries are judged not on the artistic skills alone, but more importantly on how inventive they are. Partnering with Kenya’s leading national newspaper The Star, the MASK Prize hopes to inspire young people to be more creative, and their teachers and parents to better understand how important creativity and innovation are in our age of rapid technological change.

Now in its fifth year, the MASK Prize has attracted more than 4,500 participants in Kenya and other countries in Africa.

This year, the MASK Prize pairs up with Portfolio, a similar programme of the famous Turner Contemporary art gallery in the UK. The participants of the MASK Prize and the Portfolio will exhibit in the UK and Nairobi together.

“MASK Prize is a wonderful and amazing,” said past participants. “It was a great honour to receive a prize,”; “I was in awe of creativity of others,”; “I gained a lot from the competition and I am a better person for it,”; “The initiative helps us a lot,”; “Getting a prize motivated me to be even more creative,”; and “We urge you to continue inspiring us as young artists”.

arts education international development africa kenya student classroom painting creative skills It is important to make this opportunity available to more young people. If you share the MASK Prize’s vision of innovative young Kenyans ensuring Kenya’s future prosperity and well-being and wish to sponsor one of the prizes, the MASK Prize organisers would be happy to hear from you.

And for those who wish to enter the competition, click here now:

Alla Tkachuk is a creativity specialist, the founder of the creativity learning programmes MASK and MASK Prize, contact her on

Photo Credits: Robin Hutton ; Albert González Farran, UNAMIDU.S. Embassy, Zambia

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