Finnish embassy gives big Bucks to Arts

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Finnish embassy will donate $1,6 million into Namibian arts and culture development this year. This was announced by the embassy’s programme officer for local cooperation, Elise Heikkinen, in an Art/Life interview this week. “We operate under the primary motto of strengthening Namibian cultural identity for the last couple of years and will continue to do so with our long-term partners and other worthy projects,” said Elise Heikkinen in her office on Monday. She also indicated that her embassy will move in July to the premises presently occupied by the Royal Dutch Embassy soon to leave Namibia. According to the programme officer, the bulk of the N$1,6 million will be distributed amongst three government arts and culture institutions. “We support the National Theatre of Namibia in projects such as the two-yearly Theatre Zone competition, the Golden Pen writing awards and also its out-of-school regional youth theatre development pro-gramme, aimed at providing sustainable job opportunities to unemployed youth with a flare for stage creativity,” she said. Other government institutions the Finnish embassy supports include the Namibia National Arts Gallery and the National Museum. “We financially support capacity building at the Namibia National Art Gallery … for the past few years. Then there is the National Museum, where we support the training of staff as well as revamping permanent exhibitions,” Heikkinen said proudly. The Oruuano Artists Union is the biggest benefactor among the community-based organisations, followed by the JMAC arts centre at the Katutura Community Arts Centre (KCAC), particularly the after-school arts kids’ programme. Assitej-Namibia (Orga-nisation of theatre for children and young people) has also been benefiting financially from the cooperation fund for the past three years and will do so again this year, according to Heikkinen. “We also help smaller worthy and meritorious educational arts and culture projects such as short film and theatre productions in the short-term throughout the year,” said Heikkenin, who indicated that the money will be availed to those orga-nisations that qualify as from the end of next month.