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Sports Ministry unveils County Theatre Fiesta in Kisumu

Arts and theatre performances have for a long time been concentrated in Nairobi County, therefore raising the need to decentralise these activities to other counties in a bid to tap young talents at the grassroots level.

Through the national government’s Talanta Hela Initiative under the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts, and Sports, the Kenya International Theatre Festival Trust, in collaboration with the Kenya Cultural Centre, incorporating the Kenya National Theatre, is running a theatre capacity building and competition project in Kisumu County.

The initiative, dubbed County Theatre Fiesta, is geared towards monetizing both sports and the creative industries by identifying, nurturing, and creating opportunities for different talents across the country.

“As qualified as Nairobi is, what we have in our county is a theatre scene, so we are trying to build it into an industry. An industry cannot be built by one county,” are some of the sentiments of Martin Kigondu, one of the trainers at the County Theatre Fiesta.

For Kisumu County, the project kicked off from Friday, September 8 to Sunday, September 10 at the Mama Grace Onyango social centre.

The project is aimed at celebrating art, nurturing local talent, and embarking on a journey to discover the next generation of theatre stars in Kisumu County.

The programme’s manager, Kevin Kahuro, speaking at a press conference held on Thursday, welcomed the Kisumu community and all to come and support local talents.

The event will be showcased by trainees of the programme, and the winning troupe will have the honour of performing at the 8th Edition of the Kenya International Theatre Festival 2023 in Nairobi, scheduled for November.

“In Kisumu, we are training 50 artists. In total, we are training five groups, and we are encouraging each group to have at least ten people. Generally, in the country, we are training a total of 300 artists in six counties,” said Kahuro.

Amina Kombe, one of the student beneficiaries, acknowledged having an amazing experience during the training and appreciated the worthy, though challenging, path they took.

“We are being taught a lot about marketing, directing, and producing, and I feel I would be successful,” said Kombe.

Phill Vincent, a trainer and scriptwriter with the Kisumu Apex Theatre, says he has had an insightful experience and that, moving forward, he will put into action what he has learned.

The Mama Grace Onyango Cultural Centre Manager, Mr. Obat Masira, reckoned that the place was once the cultural centre for East and Central Africa, courtesy of Prof. Okot P’Bitek.

On the same stage, Masira disclosed that artists from the lakeside county have performed in different parts of the world and are therefore ready to present an outstanding show for the Kenya International Theatre Festival 2023.

The initiative is monetized in order to ensure that the artists are able to earn a living. It further covers the aspect of marketing and the artists retaining the revenue. This exposure will enable artists to grow their art professionally, not just as a hobby or a leisure activity.

Tickets for the show go for an average of Sh. 200, with some shows going for between Sh. 500 and Sh. 1000 lined up for the three-day event. All the event proceeds would go directly into the artists’ pockets.

By Okumu Vera and Ouko Millicent

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