Arts Funding Project on track

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By Ernst Herma WINDHOEK The National Theatre of Namibia, in conjunction with the American Cultural Centre in Windhoek, initiated a workshop with US expert, MS Wendy Cecherelli, from October 04 to 20 last year. The main motivation was to extend funding for the performing and visual arts in Namibia in general and with special consideration of the private sector and international donors; to share information as regards funding conditions and requirements; to create awareness. On October 18, 2005, heads of cultural organisations and artist organisations met with representatives of the donor community and private sector at the National Theatre of Namibia, the discussions facilitated by Ms Cecherelli and the then NTN general manager. Over the period of her stay in Namibia Cecherelli, accompanied by representatives from the cultural sector in Namibia, visited Namibian companies and international donor agencies to discuss parameters of arts funding in Namibia. She shared the information thus collected with the workshop participants. E. Schleberger from SA Ideas and Hilda Basson-Namundjebo contributed to the workshop with individual presentations on “what makes effective fundraising”. The workshop revealed, in quintessence, that individual funding campaigns by artist groups and artist organisations should be preceded and/or spearheaded by a joint campaign, involving the wider artist community, artist groupings and organisations currently involved in arts and culture. This, with the aim to increase awareness for the arts in general and to highlight the need for participation – be it of financial nature or otherwise – by the wider Namibian community and the economic and political organisations supporting it. On October 19, 2005 Cecherelli and S. Harsha, accompanied by representatives of the board and management of the National Theatre of Namibia, met with Minister John Mutorwa to discuss the initiative and to solicit the support of his office. Mutorwa displayed keen interest and pledged to hold up such campaign on the highest level, in his own words, ‘if need be, on the minister’s level’, i.e. in his personal capacity. The relation between the campaign and the National Arts Council was discussed and the need for both to complement each other was highlighted. From October 20 to December 06, 2005 the workshop participants called for regular meetings, aimed at developing the campaign further as well as seeking new partners and introducing the concept to a wider artist community – this considered an ongoing effort. On December 06, workshop participants benefited from a full-day workshop on successful campaigning with Schleberger. The reunions so far have brought forward a wealth of information, new ideas and basic concepts. For example, the objectives, target groups and general strategies of the campaign were identified and defined. These still need to be developed and/or condensed. Furthermore, the legal structure and organisational requirements of a body driving such campaign was elaborated on and concrete recommendations were made. February or March 2006 will see the mis-en-place of the necessary structures and, hopefully, the launch of the campaign.