For ten days in December 2010, Artistic & Cultural Biennial brought young dancers, musicians and singers from Mali’s nine regions (states) to Sikasso to compete in different categories: modern orchestra, traditional orchestra, traditional dance, modern ballet, choir, solo, theatre and exhibition.
The performances showcase a cross section of traditions from the diverse cultures of Mali. The Biennial develops an infrastructure for culture throughout the country and aids in the preservation of traditional culture by focusing on youth who learn and perform the songs, dances, theatre of their region. The young artists from the different regions get to know each other and the traditions from the other regions. They develop friendships, knowledge and respect for these traditions.
The Biennials began soon after independence in the 60’s. Many of the Malian musicians who are well known on the world music scene were first recognized at the Biennials including Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita. The Biennials were disbanded for about ten years and began again in 2003. The 2010 Biennial was especially important because it concluded the festivities marking the 50th anniversary of Malian independence.