• A pop-up residency and creative adventure on East Africa's historic train tracks


  • What is EAST?

    An immersive creative adventure

    on East Africa’s historic train tracks,

    bringing together artists, stakeholders and audiences from across disciplines and geographies to expand artistic practice, foster collaborations, build inclusive networks and reimagine perspectives.




    Distance traveled


    People engaged locally


    Participants to date


    People reached globally


    Small and big collaborations


    Two editions in Kenya on the lunatic line


    One pilot in Tanzania from Mwanza to Dar

  • Who - and How

    Culture-Makers are Changemakers

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    Trust and Intentional Serendipity

    What happens when artists, cultural stakeholders, academics, journalists and audiences

    from across boundaries get on a train together?

    To date, EAST has engaged over 170 creatives from across the region, India, Europe and North America in three editions of the project. We have invited emerging and established artists, as well as ‘movers and shakers’ from the industry, regular passengers, journalists and academics on the journey, with the intention of creating a catalytic experience, in which they can learn from each other and develop synergies.


    People who trust each other, work with each other: The emotional, physical and creative experience pushes boundaries and builds trust, inspiring participants to experiment across disciplines and explore alternative narratives. EAST teaches us how to create inclusive spaces with shared decision making, build bridges and co-create: it is not an easy experience but a powerful one.


    EAST is a collaboration between individual creative professionals and organizations. It is shaped by a collective of creatives from the region and beyond. Founded by Geraldine Hepp and Poppy Spowage in 2016, EAST has been brought to life through collaborations with organizations, ventures and foundations such as What’s Good Studios, Distant Relatives Backpackers, Creatives Garage, British Council, Africalia, Goethe Institute, Burning Man, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Africa Culture Fund, CDEA, BASATA, TaSUBa and FireFly.

  • Why

    Break Boundaries and Re-imagine What is Possible

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    A Cultural Shift

    Why are connected, courageous and diverse culture-makers

    needed to evolve and unlock humanity's potential?

    Systems level change requires a change in mindsets, beliefs and consciousness - and culture has the power to do that.


    In a time of change, when hegemonic perspectives that have dominated social, political and economic thought are revealing their dysfunction, we believe in the power of connecting creatives, inspiring risk-taking and reimagining old narratives, pushing the boundaries of artistic practice, and expanding the impact of our work through collaborations and smart, inclusive networks.


    Unique, intense atmospheres and environments impact how we come together, how we perceive, think and create. Our first sensory experience as humans is in a tight space that moves, with a rhythm and beat: our mothers' wombs - the train is a brilliant analogy to this experience, with its tight, moving spaces and continuous beat carrying us through day and night, allowing us to sink deeper into ourselves and with each other in silence, in creation and in deeper-than-usual conversations.


    EAST is not only metaphorically a journey of creative re-birth - it's an emotional and physical experience that challenges how we perceive and imagine ourselves, our shared, complex histories and our world, inviting the new to emerge in radical ways.

  • What

    Work-in-progress Performances, Collaborations and Insights

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    Connection and Co-Creation

    What emerges

    when artists don't have to cater to

    a specific market or grant?

    The real impact of EAST lies in the creative re-birth participants experience on the journey and the collaborations and connections that emerge based on the trust they have built through this shared experience. It speaks to the potency of process vs output-oriented residencies and to the power of atmospheres, unique environments and shared adventures that allow us to re-imagine and re-invent ourselves and our worlds.


    The ripple-effects include collaborations, insights and thought-leadership created by artists, thinkers, audiences and stakeholders.

    EAST researches perspectives on industry challenges and opportunities, creating regional and global visibility for contemporary art in East Africa which is largely known for its safaris and exotic traditional culture. We are structuring conversations with artists, stakeholders and audiences to connect dots, and contribute to a thriving and globally connected creative economy in Africa.

  • Ripple Effects

    Explore some of the collaborations that emerged from the journey - within existing projects, in new work or even new organizations.

  • Salooni

    This multidisciplinary art project on black hair came on the train in 2017 - and incorporated new collaborations with artists from EAST

    KMRU & Manch!ld

    Tracks from the train on Spotify.

    The founders of Freehand Studios met on EAST17

    Freehand Studios

    An illustration and animation studio for education - the founders met on the train in 2017.


    A track created 2016 by EA Wave producer JINKU feat. EAST artists Mo Pearson, Teto Tutuma, Michel Ongaro and Joseph Kiwango.

    Kovu Safarini

    A video by Anna Cardovillis feat.

    EAST16 artists, poetry by Checkmate Mido

    and a dance by Adam Chienjo


    Championed amongst others by EAST16 artists Jinku from EA Wave, Loa Myst (at the time with Cosmic Homies), TAIO (at the time Cosmic Homies), and Tetu Shani, the #NuNairobi movement gained a lot of wind following the train journey building on new connections made and inspiration gained.

  • Featured Artists

    If you want to see a complete list of EAST participants to date please click here.

    Below you will find a few featured artists - click on their images to explore and enjoy their work!


  • Blinky Bill

    Blinky Bill is one of the trailblazing musicians in East Africa - With his first solo album, Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales (Lusafrica/The Garden), DJ, rapper and producer Blinky Bill puts Kenyan modern music on the global map. He is also a TED Fellow, alumnus of the Red Bull Music Academy and frequently featured at Design Indaba.

    Diya Naidu

    Dancer, choreographer and founder at Citizens of Stage Co Lab at Shoonya in Bangalore, India. She has made headlines with her piece Red Dress Waali Ladki as a response to the brutal crimes against women in India. She also is part of a collective experimenting with dance and VR.


    Catu Diosis

    Catu Diosis is part of the Nyege Nyege crew and a rising international DJ & Producer touring Europe and East Africa. She is based in Uganda.

    Gloria Wavamunno

    Gloria is the founder of Kampala Fashionweek and her namesake clothing label.

    Jojo Abot

    JOJO ABOT, who was artistic director for EAST17, is a nomadic interdisciplinary artist exploring evolving themes of spirituality, identity and community with SELF as the starting point to collective evolution.


    With an exciting, budding career, ABOT has toured with Ms Lauryn hill, played stages like Afropunk, Roots Picnic, Radio City Music Hall, The Apollo, Kennedy Center and more while being the first unsigned artist to perform live for NYC’s Times Square New Year’s Eve concert to over a million people.


    An alumni of the New Museum’s incubator program, NEW INC and former resident at National Sawdust, ABOT continues to develop and present her interdisciplinary practice through POWER TO THE GOD WITHIN and other curatorial projects.

    Martin Kharumwa

    Based in Uganda, Martin is one of the rising photographers in the region. He is known for constructing images that appeal to different cultural contexts.

    Labdi Ommes

    Labdi is a musician from Nairobi, Kenya. She sings Afro-house, neo-hose and Afro-pop music. She has shared the stage with US singer Joss Stone, Kenyan musicians Tetu Shani, Janice Iche, Tha Movement and the Kaya Collective.

    Michael Soi

    Kenya-based Michael Soi is one of the regions most reknowned visual artists. In his work, he tackles current issues in politics, and offers a satirical take on the topics that occupy our public imagination. Soi draws inspiration from contemporary life in Nairobi. His work can be read as a kind photographic diary of Nairobi, offering commentary on social, economic and political trends. He delves into relationships, or what he generally calls the economics of love, the corrupting effects of power, and popular culture within the context of globalization & consumerism.

    Mzungu Kichaa

    Danish born Mzungu Kichaa has spent much of his childhood living in Africa - and this is where he has transformed himself into Mzungu Kichaa which means something along the lines of "the crazy white man." Mzungu Kichaa is currently a musical star in East Africa where he broke through in 2009 with the album "Tuko Pamoja" and the hit single "Jitolee" featuring local stars Professor Jay and Mwasiti. In 2010, Mzungu Kichaa became the judge in Bongo Star Search, the Tanzanian equivalent to X-Factor, and in 2012 he released his EP "Hustle".

    Maimouna Jallow

    Maïmouna Jallow is a storyteller and journalist based in Nairobi. She is the director of arts and media company, Positively African and Reimagined Stories. She has performed her adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s acclaimed novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives on several stages from East to West Africa and Europe. She writes for Africasacountry.


    She is currently a fellow of the inaugural Ford Foundation Africa #NoFilter initiative, and is the editor and curator of Story Story, Story Come. Her work has been featured on the BBC, Forbes Woman Africa, and The East African, amongst others.


    Bankslave is one of the leading graffiti and street-art artists in Kenya and has travelled the world with his work.

  • Windows into the Journey

    Please note that as EAST is run by a collective on a volunteer basis, our social media presence is project based.