Namibian Arts Council Tackles the Regions

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By M’kariko Amagulu

WINDHOEK

In an effort to introduce and inform the nation about the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN), a tour around the country was recently undertaken by the council, conducting information meetings at the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture multipurpose centres in the various regions.

The meetings began in Katima Mulilo, proceeding to Rundu, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, Oshakati, Opuwo, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Luderitz, Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Gobabis and Rehoboth. The Usakos Multi purpose centre, additionally also received the guidelines and criteria and other NACN publications to distribute to artists and arts practitioners. Furthermore, the facilitators of the coastal meetings have it on good authority that information materials, including the guidelines and criteria were distributed to nearby towns like Henties Bay.

The NACN conducted the awareness tour in the main towns of regions to inform and explain to artists and arts stakeholders how to fill in the application forms and all other relevant information on the NACN that the applicant should know, such as the guidelines and criteria, categories for funding, the assessment criteria and how long it will take for the artists and/or the organisation to receive funding if successful.

The attendants to the workshops consisted of artists from the visual, performing, literature and media arts disciplines. Arts practitioners composed of cultural groups, theatre groups, band members, writers, dancers, painters, sculptors and even aspiring film makers attended the meetings.

The information meetings were of essence in meeting the objectives of the council, as a national institution and service provider solely aimed towards supporting the local arts sector. They aimed at availing information to as many interested local artists and arts practitioners as possible. This was inevitably to award all local arts practitioners the same opportunities to apply for financial assistance for their future artistic endeavours. This would be through funding of projects and activities aimed at local arts promotion, increased creativity, capacity building, information sharing, cultural exchanges, networking and to the overall development and progress of the Namibian arts sector.

It was however noted that many artists and arts practitioners from regions, other than the Khomas Region, where the council offices are located, felt that they are at a disadvantage because they do not have direct access to the council. This concern was reiterated to the council representatives, who facilitated the meetings, in most, if not all the towns that where visited.

Artists in the regions also recommended that the NACN be decentralised, in order to make the institution more accessible to all Namibian artists and arts organisations.

Another concern that arose for the meetings was whether funds would be equitably and fairly distributed considering that arts practitioners in Windhoek seemed to have a clear advantage, not only because of their setting, but also because of being more experienced and more proficient in the English language than others from other regions.

The abovementioned concerns were not the only ones that were mentioned during the meetings, there were others such as, artists that had no access to certain technologies that would be utilised to record their work, such as recording systems for music, cameras for visual artists and performing artists. There was also a concern over how it was that they would get their applications to Windhoek, the funds that would be involved in posting them and the concern towards the set deadline.

The facilitators realised that a lot of arts practitioners seemed not to have basic administrative skills, which could pose a problem in the filling in of application forms. Language was also a problem for most of the attendants, which also poses a problem as the publications thus far have only been printed in the English language.

However, it was made clear to those that attended the meetings that the council was still in its enfant stages, and as such was going through a transitional and learning process. Therefore, this period will be a pilot stage when the council will test the set mechanisms and improve on them in its next funding cycle.

The NACN facilitators requested that arts practitioners should bear with the council and help it grow by supporting this wonderful initiative of the Government. Arts practitioners were reminded that the first run would most likely have hic-ups, but that would be unavoidable as the council is still growing.

The tour proved to be successful because information was disseminated to many areas of the country and youth officers at the centres, who also attended the meetings, were briefed on the NACN to enable them to assist arts practitioners in their regions and neighbouring regions on matters having to do with the NACN. However, the turnout to the meetings was only satisfactory and could have been better, had more time been given to organise and plan the tour.

Many local arts practitioners welcomed the NACN and the meetings brought hope to many that had basically given up on ever developing their artistic talents. The deadline for applications for arts funding is on November 30, when no more applications will be considered except those that arrive a little later from other regions other than the Khomas Region. The assessment and selection of the first recipients will be undertaken by March next year and it is expected that funding will begin by the end of March – beginning of April.

In its bid to try and reach as much of the population as possible, the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) will be hosting an information meeting for arts practitioners in the most populous region, Ohangwena, in its capital Eenhana, on today, at the Multi-Purpose Youth Centre. The meeting will be facilitated by the Chairperson of the Council, Mr Vincent Mwemba.

An Information meeting to all interested arts practitioners will be held at the Katutura Arts Centre (KCAC) on Tuesday next week. The meeting will brief on the operations of the arts council.

The NACN advises all visual artists, performing artists, writers and media artists in Eenhana and Windhoek of the meetings at which applications for financial assistance from the NACN will also be made available to attendants.

– The National Arts Council has moved its offices from Government Office Park to the National Theatre of Namibia. The Administrator can be contacted on mobile phone 081-250 5963.

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