The Rock Art Network Terry Little
The Rock Art Network Terry Little
The Rock Art Network Terry Little
Terry Little
Fundraising for Rock Art by Promoting Its Values
26 April 2017

by Terry Little
Trust for African Rock Art

Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
FIGURE 1
Slow destruction is still destruction. Small-scale quarrying, Kondoa, Tanzania.
© Trust for African Rock Art
Rock art has struggled to get the same kind of robust public support common to other fields such as natural heritage. Even the growing presence of rock art sites on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List does not seem to have had a significant impact on increasing the funding available for their management and conservation. A higher level of public and political awareness of the importance and values of rock art is needed in order to leverage the resources required to ensure the recording, management, conservation, and use of sites. This includes providing opportunities to local communities for training and education, enabling and empowering them to value, care for, and benefit from their cultural heritage over the long term.

Looking at the experiences of the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA), this paper aims to identify the socioeconomic and cultural exchanges that must be offered to private foundations, individuals, and national and international bodies, corporations, and governments in order to effectively conserve and use rock art.

What Motivates Funding Support?

Funding for heritage preservation—of which rock art is generally the poor second cousin of natural and built heritage—is always going to be a smaller slice of the funding pie compared with health, education, and security. Most of TARA’s successful appeals for funding can be attributed to the link we have been able to demonstrate between heritage and the social and economic well-being of a community or to the eminent threats facing iconic rock art sites. One of the principles of fundraising is that it is a marketing process. That means that there must be some sort of exchange taking place: matching a product or service with a person who wants to purchase it or participate in it. You must be able to identify the market need or desire. If there is no need or desire, there is no interest.

Commodity and Amenity Values of Rock Art

Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
FIGURE 2
A funeral-like atmosphere at this rock engraving site in Kisii, Kenya, which over the course of four to five years was quarried for its soapstone.
© Trust for African Rock Art
What are rock art bodies offering in exchange for the support they are seeking? If organizations such as TARA want to market the values of rock art, what are those values and how can they be exchanged? One approach is to identify ways that rock art heritage can generate material benefits through commodities (themed merchandise) or through amenities such as tourism. The development of responsible tourism has been an attractive hook for TARA, especially through support from national development agencies whose aims often include strengthening of economic sectors, including tourism (and therefore employment, entrepreneurship, community development, etc.). The results of these efforts have been mixed but mostly discouraging. Despite strong community engagement and enthusiasm in projects that TARA launched in Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Tanzania, and Uganda, which included goals of activating or promoting tourism, it must be accepted that difficult access and scarce infrastructure constitute major obstacles toward creating realistic tourism potential in most of Africa. At the same time, managing community expectations when exploring the potential is important because the reality is that there will be little or no funding or generation of income, yet the rock art sites need to be protected.

Slow Destruction Is Still Destruction

Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
FIGURE 3
Rock art conservation as diplomacy. The US ambassador to Niger, visiting a site that received a conservation grant from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
© Trust for African Rock Art
Another approach in attempting to “sell” rock art conservation and valorization depends on an emotional angle, rooted in the language of urgency and disaster. The problem is that the biggest threats to rock art are not the sudden and dramatic annihilation of the heritage. The biggest threats are the slow, progressive destruction caused by the creation of infrastructure and other human activities. However, this does not generate the same kind of public reaction as the swift and shocking nature of human conflicts and natural calamities, yet the result is the same: the disappearance of irreplaceable connections to humanity’s past (fig. 1). It is a real challenge to get people to appreciate the slow destruction processes, but the final result is the same: the heritage vanishes. This is where foundations such as the Prince Claus Fund, specifically dedicated to cultural emergency response, can come to the rescue. Individuals can also be called to action as TARA was in 2015, when it succeeded in raising around $25,000 through a crowd-funding effort focused on the threats facing heritage sites throughout the Sahel region. The slow effects of human activity eventually took their toll in Kisii, Kenya, where an engraved site disappeared over the course of four to five years (fig. 2). Despite an awareness campaign and funding of a guardian, the soapstone upon which the symbolic engravings were created was mined for industrial use. The University of Kisii offered to host the large boulder with some of the more compelling engravings if it could have been moved to the campus, but, even if this action of last resort had been agreed upon, there was simply a lack of time and expertise to mobilize the resources.

Industry as Partner or Foe?

Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
FIGURE 4
Rock art conservation center in Tamghilt Zerzem site in Morocco, one of a dozen such centers in the country and a rare example of steady government support for rock art in Africa.
© Trust for African Rock Art
The demand for minerals, water, and energy—and their consequent extraction and management— is the source of many conservation threats. The situation is familiar and predictable: something of untold historical value is being threatened by industrialization. The players are the usual suspects: gigantic companies with unconstrained treasure at their disposal to oppose, influence, still, and mollify resistance efforts; central government that is opportunistic concerning its resources; and communities of local people for whom this heritage may or may not have social or cultural value. Once upon a time, mining companies were unequivocally the enemy; it may be time to consider whether they are willing and in a position to provide what governments have failed to: a way up and out of the debilitating social problems plaguing many communities. The quest to protect heritage does not necessarily need to be in contradiction to people’s aspirations to generate income or enhance their living conditions. As much as I may be jolted by the appearance, or even the notion, of industrial activities in or near rock art sites, it is unreasonable for me to have a particular animus toward these activities per se when I myself drive a Nissan and use a mobile phone and a host of other gadgets. In today’s world, industries act according to their imperative: generating as much profit as possible to expand or survive. While our i nstitutions may not have much influence on industrial policy or activities, it is our task is to find industries that choose to cultivate a concerned and accountable public profile to partner with. This is happening to some extent in Australia, where Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton collaborate in rock art research.

Rock Art Conservation as Diplomacy

Several of TARA’s recent grants have come through soft diplomacy grants through the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation in Chad, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, support that aims to burnish the reputation of the funder as a responsible body whose interests in a country are not merely mercenary (fig. 3). The 2018 US budget proposal currently on the table aims to slash State Department diplomacy and aid funding. It is not obvious that private foundations and individuals will increase their funding support to counter these trends.

Convergence and Success Stories

Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
FIGURE 5
Amenity values of rock art. Despite the infrastructure and security challenges of getting to Dabous, Niger, this iconic giraffe engraving has attracted funding from a number of sources for both its conservation and valorization.
© Trust for African Rock Art
How often is there harmony between the different axes of economic benefit, development, tourism, and conservation? Not very often, though there are a few examples of TARA successes in Kenya and Niger. Taking fundraising and marketing forward, volunteerism and community involvement will be needed to help fill the gap and to leverage funding partnerships. Like fundraising, volunteerism is a marketing process. There is always some sort of exchange taking place, whether it is funds or efforts for recognition. Engagement of local and Indigenous communities should be considered in this context. Their in-kind investments of knowledge, experience, and energy must be considered and acknowledged in any strategy (fig. 4). It is also important that rock art professionals and well-wishers make efforts to create steady, effective noise regarding heritage under threat. Based on my experience and observations, the chances of self-sustenance in funding, management, and conservation of rock art in Africa (and elsewhere) are scant, and outside funding will continue to be required to support conservation and valorization efforts (fig. 5). This kind of dependency on outside funding is far from ideal, but the options are not obvious. Taking advantage of funding opportunities should be seen as a way to build new partnerships and as a channel for funding agencies and individuals to demonstrate their interest in and commitment to preserving and valorizing evidence of humankind’s earliest spiritual and creative efforts.

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→ he aftermath of fire damage to important rock art at the Baloon Cave tourist destination, Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland, Australia
by Paul Taçon
24 November 2019
→ The removal and camouflage of graffiti: The art of creating chaos out of order and order out of chaos
by Johannes H. N. Loubser
11 November 2019
→ The Histories of Australian Rock Art Research symposium, 8-9 December 2019, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
by Paul Tacon
5 November 2019
→ San rock art exhibition at the National Museum & Research Center of Altamira
by Aron Mazel
17 September 2019
→ The 2018 Art on the Rocks Colloquium
by Wendy All
2 December 2018
→ Preserving Our Ancient Art Galleries: Volunteerism, Collaboration, and the Rock Art Archive
by Wendy All
1 December 2017
→ Altamira and the New Technology for Public Access
by Pilar Fatás Monforte
30 April 2017
→ From the Chauvet Cave to the Caverne du Pont d’Arc: Methods and Strategies for a Replica to Preserve the Heritage of a Decorated Cave That Cannot Be Made Accessible to the Public
by Jean-Michel Geneste
29 April 2017
→ Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
by Noel Hidalgo Tan
28 April 2017
→ Step by Step: The Power of Participatory Planning with Local Communities for Rock Art Management and Tourism
by Nicholas Hall
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by Terry Little
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Bradshaw Foundation Donate Friends
LATEST ARTICLE
Bradshaw Foundation Donate Friends
RECENT ARTICLES
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→ he aftermath of fire damage to important rock art at the Baloon Cave tourist destination, Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland, Australia
by Paul Taçon
24 November 2019
→ The removal and camouflage of graffiti: The art of creating chaos out of order and order out of chaos
by Johannes H. N. Loubser
11 November 2019
→ The Histories of Australian Rock Art Research symposium, 8-9 December 2019, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
by Paul Tacon
5 November 2019
→ San rock art exhibition at the National Museum & Research Center of Altamira
by Aron Mazel
17 September 2019
→ The 2018 Art on the Rocks Colloquium
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2 December 2018
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→ Emerging Consciousness and New Media: The Management of Rock Art in Southeast Asia and New Opportunities for Communicating Its Significance
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→ Step by Step: The Power of Participatory Planning with Local Communities for Rock Art Management and Tourism
by Nicholas Hall
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→ Fundraising for Rock Art by Promoting Its Values
by Terry Little
26 April 2017
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