Have corporates hijacked the Kenya Cultural Centre?
In September 2017, a new executive director took the helm at the KENYA CULTURAL CENTRE (KCC), incorporating the KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE (KNT). With a great wealth of experience from corporate management, the new director had one main vision: transform the KCC into a world class facility competing with its peers internationally in providing quality entertainment and cultural activities.
The first step was to thoroughly clean up the facility. Even after refurbishment by the national government,the Kenya n
ational theatre had still been at risk of being run down due to lack of maintenance. The new director took charge. He personally supervised all the work done at the facility. Even the small auditorium (Ukumbi Mdogo) got a facelift. Landscapers were brought in and new grass was planted. Security was beefed up right from the gate and regular patrols conducted on the grounds. The centre had become a hub for drug peddlers, addicts, and alcoholics. Now they did not have a home. Staff members who did not want to toe the line were dismissed. It was a new dawn.
Soon, the KENYA CULTURAL CENTRE started attracting bigger players with better shows and events. However, not everyone was happy. Soon, dismissed staff and displaced drug peddlers and addicts hit back. With the help of bloggers and other mainstream journalists they started spreading rumors of the KCC being hijacked by corporates. They spread the narrative that artists had been kicked out and that the “creative spirit’ had been killed. Even after the director left after just a year, the rumors persisted. However, is it really true?
Tash Mitambo has been staging monthly shows at the KNT for many years. He has been there under different directors and for him, he thinks the facility is better now than it was. He says they can have shows without the patrons having fear of their vehicles being vandalized. He has seen children and students now comfortably venture into the facility as it is now a drug-free zone.
Have you visited the KCC/KNT lately? What do you think of the way it is being run now? You can visit the facility from 11th to 14th April 2019 as Renegade Ventures stage a comedy in Kikuyu language at Ukumbi Mdogo. The show is directed by Tash Mitambo, a seasoned actor and playwright. The comedy titled UMIA NDITI loosely translated as A NEW BEGGINNING, seeks to explore all the reasons why Kenyans need not lose hope. You can reach the box office on 0708 087687, like the Renegade Ventures Facebook page or dial *664*117# to get SMS updates for free.
So, has the KCC been hijacked by corporates at the expense of the arts? Most practitioners have said a resounding NO. Let us visit the KENYA CULTURAL CENTRE and give recommendations for its improvement.