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Museum in the UK to return 72 looted artefacts to Nigeria

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Horniman is the first museum receiving UK funding to return items to the Kingdom of Benin | Photo: Andrew Lee
Horniman is the first museum receiving UK funding to return items to the Kingdom of Benin | Photo: Andrew Lee

The Horniman Museum in London, UK has agreed to return a collection of artefacts looted in the 19th Century from the Kingdom of Benin.

The objects were forcibly removed from Benin City during the British military incursion in February 1897 and were among thousands of artefacts taken out of the country, which eventually ​​ended up in 150 museums and galleries all over the world.

The Horniman’s 72 objects – which include 12 brass plaques known as the “Benin Bronzes” – will now be transferred to the Nigerian government.

Horniman becomes ​​the first museum receiving funding from the UK government to say that it will return its haul from the Kingdom of Benin – a former nation that has no historical relation to the modern republic of Benin and is located in what is now Edo state, Nigeria.

It follows ​​the Horniman receiving a request from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in January 2022.

The Horniman has since undertaken detailed research of its objects from Benin to establish which are in the scope of the request.

The Horniman has also consulted with community members, visitors, schoolchildren, academics, heritage professionals and artists based in Nigeria and the UK.

A final decision to return the objects was made by the Horniman trustees earlier this month, with the full backing of The Charity Commission, the UK regulator for the charitable sector.

“The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria.”, says Eve Salomon, chair of the Trustees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

The Horniman will now discuss with National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) the process for the formal transfer of ownership, and the possibility of retaining some objects on loan for display, research, and education.

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EU awards recognize citizen science initiatives

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EU awards recognize citizen science initiatives
CoAct for Mental Health won a €20,000 Digital Communities Prize

The winners of the EU 2024 Prize for Citizen Science have been announced this week. Citizen science – the general public engagement in scientific research activities – contributes to a vibrant civil society and is getting increasingly popular with Europeans.

Out of the 288 applications, three citizen science initiatives received the main prizes and 27 were recognised with honorary mentions. 

The winners are:

  • The ‘Grand Prize’, worth €60,000, goes to the EU-funded INCREASE  project for its outstanding achievements in advancing knowledge on seed preservation through the empowerment of civil society and citizens, in particular from rural areas.
  • The Digital Communities prize, worth€20,000, is given to the Horizon 2020 project CoAct for Mental Health for its use of digital technologies to develop a personalised approach and improve the quality of life for people facing mental health problems.
  • The Diversity & Collaboration prize, worth €20,000, is given to SeaPaCS_Participatory Citizen Science against Marine Pollution for producing transformative knowledge that filled the existing cognitive and emotional gap between society and the sea.

Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

“I warmly congratulate the winners of this year’s EU Citizen Science Award, but would also like to commend all participants. Your initiatives address some of our most pressing challenges and showcase the transformative potential of citizen science. They improve the excellence and impact of our research, and also deepen the relationship and trust between science and our societies.”

The winners have been selected by an independent jury of five experts. Two of the three winners of the main prizes are projects funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s previous research and innovation programme (2014-2020). The third winner involves both a former and a current Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fellow.

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Young filmmakers get a boost from Netflix and Polish Producers’ Alliance

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Young filmmakers get a boost from Netflix and Polish Producers’ Alliance
Netflix funded scholarships enabling young filmmakers to participate in the annual Film Spring Open workshops  in Kraków | Photo: Samantha Borges

The film and television industry is not only an exciting creative journey, but can also be a fascinating choice as a professional career. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for young people that are about to enter the labor market to know how to embark on this career path.

In a recent survey conducted by the Polish Producers’ Alliance – KIPA, nearly 90% of young people indicated that lack of connections makes it difficult for them to start in the film industry. Another barrier can be the fact of living outside the main urban centers and the lack of specialized education in secondary schools. The lack of new cadres and employees entering into the Polish film industry is quickly becoming a growing challenge for those creating films and series – the number of productions in Poland is growing dynamically from year to year. According to the Olsberg SPI report prepared for KIPA, the Polish film industry already creates an equivalent of 21,000 full time jobs each year.

That’s why last year, Netflix and KIPA launched the “Film Your Future” project, addressed to young people from various regions of Poland who are thinking about a career in the film industry. During the 2-day summer workshops, 136 people aged 18-26 from seven voivodeships learned the secrets of working on a film set, what are the various professions in the industry, and also worked on their very own film production. For the most committed workshop participants, Netflix funded scholarships enabling them to participate in a week-long event – the annual Film Spring Open workshops  in Kraków.

“For me, the “Film Your Future” project was certainly an extraordinary event that changed my view of the film industry and the opportunities it offers by 180 degrees. (…) From a person who considered the film industry to be a kind of unattainable environment for me, I have reached the point where I know what doors to open and I am already taking the first steps towards it,” says Mikołaj, 20 years old, from Bochnia about his experience participating in the workshop.

The positive reception of the workshops, giving young people not only the opportunity, but also the knowledge and skills for a better start in the film industry, led Netflix to continue its partnership with the Polish Producers’ Alliance. 

This year, the streaming giant will be reopening the door to a professional career in the production of films and TV series thanks to the second edition of the “Film Your Future” program. This time, during the upcoming summer holidays, the workshops will be held in the following voivodeships: Podlaskie, Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Świętokrzyskie, Opolskie, Lubuskie and Wielkopolskie. The program is held under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

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£125,000 in grants awarded to UK creatives to support careers in screen arts

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A man filming a scene with a ginger girl indoors
Emerging creative from low socio-economic backgrounds are amongst the talent receiving bursaries.

BAFTA announced over £125,000 in grants have been awarded to 69 talented creatives to support their career development in the screen arts.  

This year, grants of up to £2,000 each have been made available to 58 emerging creatives including production assistants, costumer designers, writers, game designers, and camera and sound trainees to help them progress in their respective crafts. The grants will go towards essential costs such as driving lessons, specialist equipment, training and relocation costs that might otherwise lock talented people out of a screen arts career.  

The Prince William BAFTA Bursary scheme is named in honour of BAFTA’s President. Kickstarted with the support of film director Paul Greengrass, it is now in its fourth year.

For the first time, BAFTA is also awarding grants to individuals who have been forcibly displaced in collaboration with the Refugee Journalism Project. £30,000 in funding has been awarded to 11 recipients including journalists, editors, directors and videographers.  

The Refugee Journalism Project builds on BAFTA’s recent work with Counterpoint Arts – highlighting the importance of authentic portrayals of refugees on-screen, including recent events with BAFTA award-winning filmmaker and activist Hassan Akkad, a masterclass with BAFTA award-winning director Waad al-Kateab, and ‘Introduction to Filmmaking’ workshops with Deadbeat Films. 

Supporting the next generation of talent is an essential part of our mission. The Prince William BAFTA Bursary Fund is a fantastically effective way to kick-start careers, particularly for those who face socio and economic inequality. The bursaries are transformative for career starters, enabling them to buy an essential piece of kit, secure training, or in some cases it’s as simple as getting driving lessons so they can get to set! There is no shortage of potential in our workforce. Unfortunately, the opportunity to act on that potential is all too often limited by financial barriers. So, I’m delighted to continue The Prince William BAFTA Bursary Fund, thanks to our incredibly generous network of donors and supporters,” says Jane Millichip, CEO of BAFTA.

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