Mission/Program

Virtual Tour & Introduction to The Africa Center


Watch the video below to learn about The Africa Center’s mission and plans. Enjoy the tour!

Video: Cicada Design for Caples Jefferson Architects

To watch this fly-through in 360°, please click here.

Mission


The Africa Center’s work is premised on the idea that that this emerging market of one billion people, characterized by extraordinary diversity and complexity, is inescapably relevant to building a prosperous and secure future. Africa is the world’s oldest continent, while boasting the youngest population; it encompasses a huge land mass, but a small population in relation to its size; and it possesses great natural resources, only surpassed by its enormous human potential. These unique dynamics place Africa at the center of global discourse, and The Center will serve as the platform and hub for this discussion. Encompassing policy, business and culture, The Africa Center will operate locally and globally to transform our understanding of the continent by promoting partnership and collaboration between Africa and the United States. The Center will host visual, performing, and digital arts presentations; develop and disseminate innovative educational tools; convene peer-to-peer exchanges; and sponsor results-oriented policy dialogues.

Program


Culture:

The Africa Center will be a home for exhibitions, performances and showings of visual, performing, and digital art from Africa. It will be a space in which the continent speaks for itself, a platform for the most compelling contemporary content from the continent. But it will be more than a venue–we aim to foster new collaborations and dialogues between African artists and those in the United States.

Policy:

The Africa Center will develop public policy by focusing its efforts on linking research capacity with change agents on the ground in Africa. We will work to build a broader constituency for good policy through media programs that encourage more diverse, specific, representative and informed coverage, and educational initiatives that aim to bring basic “Africa literacy” to a wide range of audiences.

Business:

The Center will help the private sector to navigate 54 distinct business climates, will make hard-to-obtain data available and understandable, and will facilitate peer-to-peer introductions. We will give African entrepreneurs exposure to New York’s private sector, help potential partners find each other, share best practices, and explore how private enterprise can help drive transformational developments on the continent.

The Center seeks a constant dialogue among these lines of effort to build a more holistic understanding of contemporary Africa and maximize the potential for inspiration and innovative new partnerships. Culture influences policy; it’s often the vanguard of social and political change. Policy enables or inhibits business. We will bring these elements together to grow the relationship between Africa, the United States, and the rest of the world.

Why Africa today?

“Africa is the new frontier for business. With unprecedented growth in the natural resources sector and the services industry, at last Africa is turning a corner. What underpins the growth story is the improvement in governance, transparency, gender and human rights over the last decade. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China. 15 of the 20 fastest growing cities in the world between 2015 and 2020 will be African. Today, Africa’s top trading partner is the EU followed closely by China. The US is a very distant third. That was not the case some years ago. The US needs to reconnect with Africa. That is why the Africa Center is relevant.” Mo Ibrahim, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist   “Africa is evolving; America is evolving. As our shared experience of global economics, politics, and aesthetics transforms, we need institutions like The Africa Center to erect promising new re-imaginings of what it means to be African in the 21st century.” Kehinde Wiley, Contemporary Artist & Board Trustee, The Africa Center   “Life on earth begins in Africa making it the center of the world connecting us all. The Africa Center in Harlem will be the place where we can engage with Africa’s creative past and present, and help shape its promising future.” Fab 5 Freddy, Chief Creative Consultant, The Africa Center

Why is a building necessary?

“New York’s Africa Center commands a powerful international presence, which will draw upon the rich cultural, social and political legacy and history of the diaspora together with the inimitable cultural beat of New York, itself. This pairing is immediately captivating and will resonate with the contemporary African community and beyond. New York is a global city, which has welcomed the diaspora – and the Center is a fantastic platform from which to deliver this message to the world.” David Adjaye, Architect   “The colossal raw space of The Africa Center provided ample opportunities for dramatic interior designs. The challenge we embraced was to create a welcoming public space that encourages human interconnectivity on the grand scale as well as the intimate. Versatility and flexibility were among the driving goals, as was the play of light between the outside world and the inner sanctum. It is our hope that visitors feel inspired by the majesty of the soaring space and the dynamism of the internal configurations.” Sara Caples Everardo Jefferson, Principals, Caples Jefferson Architects

Why New York?

“This is the African century. There’s a sort of static electricity around Africa at the moment that is exciting. I think, in a way, New York would be less relevant without a piece of that. New York has always been the global crossroads and now for the first time there is a clear sign post saying ‘Africa this way’ . . . fun, educational, imaginative. The Africa Center is great for the continent but it’s even greater for New York.” Bono, Musician, Activist and Philanthropist

Why Harlem?

“The cultural epicenter of the African diaspora in the United States is and always has been Harlem. With my dual perspective as a resident of Harlem and as an African-American business investor in Africa, I am looking forward to building bridges of understanding between Africans and Americans in the private and public sectors.” Dana M. Reed, Interim CEO

Why is a center the answer?

“Africa’s role in global affairs is expanding and deepening. New York is a great city where much of the world’s politics and business is conducted. Africa needs a strong and vibrant presence in the city. . . the Africa Center, through dialogue and debate, will promote public understanding of African issues and present African perspectives on questions of world significance. The Africa Center, which reflects the ambition and vitality of a continent on the rise, will add a new and innovative dimension to New York’s long engagement with Africa.” Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General, United Nations   “The Africa Center represents an opportunity for a new narrative on the Africa that I know and experience every day. Companies such as the Dangote Group are at the forefront of redefining for the world what African business is and what Africa can accomplish with the right partners. Showcasing Africa in a new and positive light is what makes this project worthwhile and something that I am proud to support through my foundation.” Aliko Dangote, Industrialist, Investor   “Propelling Africa’s transformation requires a paradigm shift that The Africa Center’s interdisciplinary focus on policy, business and culture will help to actualize. Drawing on Africa’s and New York’s rich creative, entrepreneurial and intellectual talent creates the perfect space for envisioning contemporary Africa’s role in shaping new global traditions.” Jendayi Frazer, President & CEO, 50 Ventures, LLC & Board Trustee, The Africa Center

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