The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II earmarked cultural development as an important sub-theme for sustainable economic development. The cultural industry was cited among the high growth sectors that will be positioned to realize economic growth in the longer term. A study conducted by the Government of Malawi through the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), in collaboration with National Statistics Office and United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2013 concluded that the economic contribution of copyright-based industries in Malawi is at about 3.46% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This was only in the copyright-based industries and if the contribution of other non-copyright based cultural industries such as monuments and cultural landscapes were factored in, the contribution would have been more.
Despite the noticeable contribution to the GDP, the creative Sector remains the least developed amongst development priority areas such as Health, Education and Agriculture. This has come about, among other reasons, due to the scarcity of skilled artisans with both technical and entrepreneurial abilities to produce and market Malawian creative and cultural products. In addition, the Sector continues, fifty years after independence, to operate using mostly untrained personnel as a result of Malawi not having an Arts School that is dedicated to development of technical and entrepreneurial skills among Malawian artists. Furthermore, the industry suffers from lack of recognition from financial lending institutions and access to quality production and marketing services. Financial lending institutions in the country generally view investment in the creative sector as both risky and speculative. The effect of which, Malawian artists are unable to finance the production of quality artistic and cultural products, and compete favorably on both the national and international market.
The Integrated Arts Development Project (IADP) therefore, intends to address the challenges faced by artists in terms of the skills gap, access to financial services and availability of quality artistic products and marketing services. This will be done by establishing an Arts School, and enhancing the capacities of Arts Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) and Arts Production and Marketing Cooperative (APMC).