The government will fund all future Kenya Universities Performing Arts Association (KUPAA) festivals, President William Ruto has pledged.
In a speech read by Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba during the closure of Kupaa festival at Jaramogi University Sunday, President Ruto said the government will provide financial support and incentives for artistic activities through the State Department for University Education and Research.
The declaration by the President comes as a welcome relief to KUPAA since the cash strapped association has always struggled to organize annual festivals since inception in 2018.
President Ruto further stated that his government through the Department of Arts will work closely with key stakeholders in the creative industry to resolve challenges faced by artists.
The Head of State said the government is committed to expand the space in the creative industry including protection of freedom of expression and intellectual rights.
He called on relevant government bodies such as the Kenya Film Classification Board, Kenya Film Commission and the Kenya Corporate Board to play their roles in protection of intellectual rights and promotion of artistic talent.
The President said his government has plans to mainstream the creative industry in Brand Kenya and commercial diplomacy including appointing accomplished artists as Kenyan cultural ambassadors.
The Head of State commended KUPAA for managing a student-centered festival whose theme “Shaping societal development through performing arts,” he said, resonates with the government’s agenda of economic empowerment of the youth through arts and sports
CS Namwamba said the government has placed a high premium on the creative industry and wants to make the sector a big employer in the country.
He disclosed that through his Ministry the government will establish a one stop shop center of excellence domiciled at an institution of higher learning that will identify, incubate and grow creative talents in the country.
The occasion was attended by outgoing PS in the State Department of University Education Amb. Simon Nabukwesi who said drama and artistic activities are key in transforming the society positively through lessons drawn from the festival and encouraged members of the society to attend such events.
Nabukwesi on the other hand asked the organisers of KUPAA to keep raising the standards at future events adding that the festival gives universities an opportunity to compete among themselves and be role models in the society.
JOOST Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Agong commended the organisers and partners including the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council for the success of the ten-day event that brought together over thirty private and public universities.
He acknowledged the role of arts in transforming the society adding that although Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University is a science-based institution, it has students in the creative arts, which is crucial for growth and wellbeing of the society.
Two hundred and twenty-eight items were presented by over 2000 performing artists at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology during the event.
By Brian Ondeng