Artists Shoot Themselves in the Foot

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By Frederick Philander

WINDHOEK

Unbecoming and insensitive behaviour by some Namibian artists hinder recognition of the arts industry. Director of Arts in the Ministry of Culture, Retha-Louis Hofmeyr, said this when she officially opened a three-day annual workshop of the National Extension Programme of the College of the Arts in the capital on Tuesday.

Thirty part time lecturers in the NAEP from around the country are attending the workshop at the Katutura Community Arts Centre under the leadership of the programme’s new head, Lucky Pieters.

“Our ministry’s aims and objectives are to build a viable art industry in the country and you are part of that process that can help create job opportunities. However, it is expected from all lecturers to give their best. Those who do not will be wise to leave the National Extension Programme,” Hofmeyr warned.

She further urged Namibian artists not to accept mediocrity, what she called a Namibian sickness.
“You teach people much-needed creative skills and you serve as role models to others.

That is why I am urging you not to accept mediocrity, which is not good enough at all. Presently, most artists in this country are not properly recognised due to unbecoming actions such as drunkenness. Some of these people are breaking down the status of artists because they do not respect others,” she said.

In her view artists form an integral part of the society and keep the society on its toes through their creative works.

“This is your only way of connecting with the society and community you work in. Also, do not wait for big things to happen. Learn to creatively improvise in the absence of resources. Play with opportunities and do not always solely depend on Government assistance for art development. Your approach to art should be entrepreneurial in nature to achieve the necessary success,” she said.

She said decentralisation is a big problem for the Government in arts development.
“But I encourage you to build lasting cooperation and closer working relations with local authorities wherever you operate and work as artists. We do not want anyone to be excluded from our arts development efforts.

Accommodate everyone interested in arts and do not reject them. We need to be responsive to the needs of those interested in the arts. That is why we need to make arts accessible to everyone for possible job opportunities,” she said at the workshop, which is facilitated by senior Government official, Sam Geiseb.

Pieters reminded participants that this particular arts programme will be terminated by October 2008.
“This is one of the main reasons why I brought you all together here for you to give inputs for a request to the Government to have the programme extended for at least five more years.

You as lecturers and your families are economically dependent on the programme, currently the biggest department in the College of the Arts,” Pieters said.
The workshop ended yesterday.

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