Zellan Patterns Left
Zellan Patterns Right

By our Team

Re-strategizing Zellan

Covid-19, social tensions, internet blackout: 2020’s great scavengers are competing for the priority of the beakful over an already weakened Ethiopian creative and cultural industry.

Zellan is no different, as we wrestled how to justify, in these days of gathering restrictions, the cost of an empty space in front of our stakeholders.

We asked: how to best allocate our financial resources to support our creative industry instead of constantly catching up with the mad march of an ever-cost-rising rent market in Addis? How to stop the leakage of our energy, each day fighting against the round-the-clock bureaucratic chains? How to go on in the midst of a countrywide crisis that is yet to truly be acknowledged in its severity?

The crawling obvious answer has come to be that the original strategic choices of Zellan Creative and Cultural Centre incarnated as a safe space is right now irrelevant. Coming face to face with a reality of survival most of our cultural practitioners are facing today, the mangled infrastructures and the generational trauma exasperated in these trying times forces us to look deeper into what is necessary.

We cannot go about our daily routine and missions in life as if we have hit a snag in our plans. As an Ethiopian cultural space, we are invested in the healing of our communities. We believe in the power of open and honest conversations to be met by empathetic ears, and more importantly meaningful actions.

We indeed chose to take a step back and close our physical doors to better jump headfirst into the digital era. As part of a bigger mission in creating a viable and fair creative ecosystem, thriving contemporary expressions of Ethiopian and East African identity. Despite the effort and love we have poured into opening the centre this is a necessary infrastructural change in order to move forward.

This difficult decision, allows our teams to keep creating content while being able to support Ethiopian grassroots projects who feel they are always rowing against the tide. It also allows us to get closer to the nomadic nature of our identity- as borders, ethnicity and every other identifier cannot divide what consciously wants to unite.

As Zellan, we feel a refusal to let the bridle pass, we choose to do what we do best, keep creating, keep strategizing but most of all re-strategizing.

A lot is being prepared to uplift our sector and society. We will soon share exciting content and we hope you will have our backs as you have in the past, we hope to hear from you on ideas to collaborate, missteps you think need correcting or reach out to simply say hello, and wish us well, and most of all we hope you will stay on this journey with us.

Stay tuned creatives and art lovers; we are dusting off our painful knees, stronger than ever. See you all soon on the tortuous path to wisdom as we keep at heart: to create culture is to preserve it.