The Uganda National Cultural Centre, popularly referred to as the National Theatre is undergoing major repairs in preparation for the upcoming East African Community Arts and Culture Festival.
The event translated in Swahili as – Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival (JAMAFEST), will be held in Kampala from September 7-15, 2017.
While inspecting the repair works on Thursday morning, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Pius Bigirimana, expressed confidence that the theatre would receive the much needed restoration before commencement of the festival.
This is the first major facelift the theatre is getting since its construction in 1959.
“This renovation must be done by end of this month of August. I am impressed with what I have found. The quality of materials is good,” Bigirimana noted.
He revealed that the repairs include fitting the auditorium with new lights and sound systems, acoustics, new curtains, chairs, carpets, refurbishment of the back stage dressing rooms and lavatories, and the green room, where performers get to do rehearsals before hitting the stage.
The foyer (front) area, reception and ground lavatories are also being overhauled.
The center’s Executive Secretary, Ojede Francis, revealed that Ambitious Construction Company is undertaking the repairs at a cost of about Shs3 billion.
Bigirimana said the funds will be provided by the Government of Uganda.
The East African Community Arts and Culture Festivals were a resolution of the 23rd Council of the EAC Ministers as one of the strategies for fostering social cohesion among East Africans.
The 1st Edition was held in February, 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda while the second was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015.
The third edition will be held in Kampala under the theme “Culture and creative industries: An Engine for unity and Employment Creation”.
The festival is being organised by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in conjunction with the Ministry of East African Community Affairs and it will revolve around a number of cultural and artistic activities that are aimed at expounding the theme and creating a deep understanding and appreciation of the cultural and creative practices across the East African region.
Bigirimana revealed that the event will have over 1,000 artists, 64 performances, 9 stages, 20 traditional games, food museums, and traditional troupe performances from across the region, among others.
Day one of the festival on September 7th will have a street carnival spanning from the city square through Uganda House to the Railway Station. Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi will have specialised performances through the carnival.
The official opening ceremony will be held at Kololo on September 10th and thereafter host the traditional games, exhibitions, storytelling, ekigwo (wrestling),
The national theatre will host the free film screening, comedy shows and band performances.
Hotel Africana will host the symposium, paper presentations, fashion show and closing ceremony.
Bigirimana encouraged members of the public to turn up for the events to see and learn the culture and arts from within other regions of Uganda but also other East African States.