Arts centre gets a Flemish boost

Flemish Minister of Culture and Media Sven Gatz tries his hand on the xylophone.

Flemish Minister of Culture and Media, Sven Gatz, hailed the inroads made by the Nyanga Arts Development Centre when he visited the centre on Thursday May 25, in the hope of developing a long lasting relationship.

Accompanied by a delegation from his ministry, he took a tour around the centre, assessing the work being done by young people.

Speaking to Vukani, Mr Gatz said he visited the centre to propose greater collaboration in joint projects. He said while Belgium and South Africa had existing ties, nothing much had been happening and he was hugely impressed by the artworks and the role played by the centre.

“I am (impressed) by what I am seeing here. I came as a curious man. Soon my ministry will come here again. I want to see how we will develop new programmes together. I know we had a programme with this country called Baswa. But as I have said, I am here to see what can be discussed in relation to skills development of young people,” said Mr Gatz.

He said the centre was an excellent example of what could be done to achieve the right balance between residential art and culture.

“This is impressive work. I was particularly impressed by the commitment to developing the young and people’s skills training, which is an important legacy for a project of this calibre.

“I have listened to young people telling me how they go about doing their work. They have related how challenging it has been and how they have changed their behaviours after joining the centre. This is an example of what societies need. I am really impressed,” he said.

The centre’s administrator, Nosisana Nama, said she was delighted with the minister’s visit. She said the Flemish government had empowered her with administration skills and other forms of art development.

“We are grateful for his visit. I’m personally delighted that the minister took such an interest in the centre. His acknowledgement that the development delivers is vindication of our vision and commitment.

“We have been committed to developing young people. We only hope for the best now. The truth is we need assistance. It is not easy running a centre of this nature without proper funds,” she said.

Board member and founder member of the centre, David Mkhize, said he hoped that the relationship the centre had with the Flemish government would continue to grow.