Grace Chiumia, Minister of Sports and Culture, nearly broke into tears when she was taken around Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) to appreciate its dilapidated condition before she officially opened this year’s Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf) on Friday.
One of the organisers, McArthur Matukuta, took the minister around the centre 45 minutes after her arrival.
She was welcomed by Baf’s chairperson Alfred Msadala for a meeting of about 15 minutes in which the minister was briefed on the nature of the festival.
Msadala also tackled the plight of the country’s artists, pleading with the minister to take action.
“Honourable minister, we are in dire need of your support in arts and cultural sectors. As you can see for yourself, these industries are dying due to lack of resources and commitment from government including other investors,” Msadala told Chiumia, before Matukuta took her around the exhibition sites to appreciate the work of the country’s artists.
After appreciating the artistic exhibitions, Chiumia was taken around the rundown structures of the BCC and she was visibly shocked at the state of the former arts mecca.
Matukuta left no stone unturned as he led the minister and her entourage every room for them to have a clear picture of how government is losing from the centre.
“Honesty, I feel like crying. This centre is an economic opportunity for artists and the country as a whole. But we will come up with a plan to see how best we can utilise this place,” pledged Chiumia before she officially opened the 2015 Baf.
Chiumia said she felt bad that artists in the country have no proper venue where they can display their work on daily or weekly basis.
“Lack of space is one of the serious challenges that has been highlighted and repeated by artists throughout my interaction with them. But as ministry we will look into that to see how best we can come in to solve the problem,” said Chiumia.