National Theatre Starts its Year’s Programme

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK By his own admission, financial assistance to the National Theatre of Namibia is not nearly enough, thus the private sector in the country is strongly encouraged to form funding partnerships with the institution. This is an official view expressed last week by the deputy minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, when he spoke at the year’s opening of the National Theatre of Namibia under new management. Various stakeholders and performing artists attended the function. At one stage the NTN operated as a private company and was primarily subsidised by the government. “As you all know, the NTN has a long history from before and upon independence of government support for the institution, which carries out a national mandate of presenting, promoting and developing performing arts in the country,” said Shifeta. According to him, the NTN has a vital role to play in the promotion of the performing arts in the country. “Not only does it fulfil its organisational objectives and obligations, but also that of my ministry, specifically through youth development and diverse cultural programmes on a national level. “Against this background I consider the NTN as a critical agency of implementation of the government’s strategies aimed at Vision 2030 because performing arts brings people from various cultures together,” the deputy minister said. In conclusion, Shifeta assured the new general manager, Werner Thaniseb, and his staff of the government’s continued support for their efforts to initiate closer ties with the authorities. The new general manager, after one other attempt by the NTN board to appoint the right person, was appointed in December last year and started working in January. Thaniseb also gave a broad outline of his wishes and future strategic plans of the NTN at the same occasion. He was also bombarded with questions by the local media as well as theatre practitioners, who have been marginalised by the NTN since its inception just before Independence. NTN allegedly receives a yearly grant of N$2,4 million from the Namibian government to run its affairs. The first Golden Pen playwright award winner in 1998, Vickson Hangula wanted to know from Thaniseb what he plans to do to make the NTN more financially accessible for community theatre groups to promote more local contemporary theatre. “We are working on plans to accommodate everyone satisfactorily,” Thaniseb responded to the fact that a play performance costs N$4 000 per show to put up at the NTN. Agetto Graig of the Weekender specifically questioned him on the ownership of the Warehouse Theatre. “The Warehouse Theatre was incorporated by the former NTN general manager, Ernst Herma. “When he resigned the venue was taken away from the NTN and he now operates it as an entity,” Thaniseb said.