Show us the money for arts development

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A seemingly larger chunk of a N$53 394-million budget allocation to the ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture has been earmarked for arts and culture development in the country. This became clear from a submission for budget approval in the National Assembly this week by the responsible minister, John Mutorwa. The four government arts and culture promoting bodies that are to benefit from these funds are the National Arts Council, the Namibia Art Gallery, the National Theatre of Namibia and the National Heritage Council. “My ministry’s mandate is to identify art and culture, develop and promote the creative talents and artistic skills of Namibians for the purpose of income generation, employment, innovation, design and the nursing of national pride and identity,” Mutorwa told the National Assembly. According to him, this arts and culture programme also works towards national building, social cohesion, national unity and national reconciliation as well as building international cultural links, the protection and promotion of Namibian culture and heritage. “In short, the promotion and preservation of our cultures and traditions, in both material and spiritual sense, are the responsibility of our Arts and Culture programme,” Mutorwa said. Should the four sub-divisions be considered on the same priority level, each would equally receive approximately N$13 million to properly promote arts and culture in the country. “That would make a lot of financial and priority sense taking into account that national arts and culture development efforts have been on the back burner for far too long. This sector is still suffering a dire backlog regarding proper funding and to do its job the Namibian Arts Council has received only N$200 000 to fulfil its mission and expectations on behalf of the Namibian government,” said the chairman of the National Arts Council, Vincent Mwemba, when approached for comment. Hypothetically speaking, the Arts Council will have enough money to promote art and culture on a consistent basis on an equal footing in all the 13 regions of the country, with about N$1 million per region. “It would be like money from heaven to help develop a true Namibian national culture on all levels, especially if each region can have its own funding allocation. Without money and the little the Arts Council has thus far received we can hardly do anything to achieve our national goals. We need this sort of money urgently to set and achieve our national aims and objectives. Only time will tell,” said Mwemba hopefully.