Youth Forging Ahead with Arts

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The newly established National Arts Council of Namibia (NAC) has growth pains due to a limited budget and the slow pace by which the statutory body is getting appropriate infrastructure in place. This is the view of the Director of Arts Programs in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Retha Louis-Hofmeyr, who last Friday spoke at the launch of yet another new community arts body in the capital. The Junior Empire Art Project was officially launched by the Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta. A handful of people attended the launch at the Multi-Purpose Center in Katutura. “Many young arts organizations or new empires are emerging as the signs of the times to celebrate the diversity of the country’s cultures. The launch of this initiative is indicative the youth is taking their own future in hand and are embracing Vision 2030 with open arms,” said Louis-Hofmeyr, a board member of the NAC. She complimented the youth for being eager and ready to create awareness of social issues that need to be addressed in order for them to secure a better future. “Many things in the art field have happened not because of, but in spite of a lack of government support over the past fifteen years. With a budget of only N$15 million it is expected to keep the NTN, NAGN, COTA, KCAC, NAEP, JMAC and the National Arts Council afloat,” she said. According to Louis-Hofmeyr the National Arts Council will become the feeding body for initiatives such as the Junior Empire Project of the arts. “Groups like this one, never giving up, but making the effort and taking their own initiatives are to be complimented. I think you will go far with this initiative, if you seek partners and partnerships, not partnerships that complicate lives, but down to earth ones,” Hofmeyr advised. Deputy Minister Shifeta encouraged the youth to take arts a step further into a new dimension of producing quality works for the nation to be proud of. “It is important for the youth to produce high quality works that convey education and entertainment in a high quality manner,” Shifeta said. He encouraged the new body to also focus on social issues such as alcohol abuse and HIV/AIDS. “Groups such as this one have the right to exist and need to be financially supported and assisted. That is my ministry’s intention because the youth are the future and they have the ability to influence people positively,” he said. As its mission the Junior Empire Project focuses on visual arts, theatre, ceramics, fashion design, music and cartooning. Immanuel Namwandi, leader of the new arts initiative, gave a run down of the problems the body is struggling with. “Though there is a lot of talent and artistic skills among our members, we are currently operating without the necessary equipment. But this did not make us idle and we do not see the lack of financial support as a drawback to reach our goals,” Namwandi said He further stated that there unfortunately exists the misconception that arts is a hobby or a leisure. “Art is a potential source of employment to the Namibian youth because it has a special role to play in economics and national development. In our eyes, art is a driver toward positive change,” he asserted.