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Stimulus package offers a lifeline to artists in the coast region

The  National Museum of Kenya (NMK) Director of  Antiquities, Sites and Monuments, Dr. Purity Kiura. Photo by Mohamed Hassan/KNA.

The  Sh.100 million stimulus package by the national government meant to cushion those in the creative industry during the period of the corona virus (covid-19) pandemic has given a lifeline to artists in coast region.

Majority of the artists in the coastal counties were largely dependent on the crumbling tourism industry for their livelihood.

Those interviewed in the tourist resort town of Malindi, a thriving tourism hub before the covid-19 outbreak that dealt the tour and travel industry in the region a big blow, said they were struggling to sustain themselves financially.

The National government through the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage last month launched the “Work for Pay” stimulus package for artists, actors and musicians to cushion them during period of covid-19.

This  follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Executive Order issued on April 6, 2020 directing the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund to avail Sh.100 million to support young people to earn a living and also enhance their talents.

The funds are being distributed in all the counties through a campaign dubbed ‘TOGETHER AT HOME’ that is being spearheaded by various government agencies and departments.

“The objective of the stimulus package besides providing a source of income to the youth is also meant to nurture talent and ensure the creative sector remain strong,” said Dr. Purity Kiura, who is in charge of the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) Directorate of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments.

Thanking President Kenyatta for the initiating the programme, Dr. Kiura said NMK would oversee mural and graffiti artists whose drawings and messages would focus on sensitizing the public on safety measures and the Ministry of Health covid-19 protocols.

She  said NMK in collaboration with other stakeholders has put in place necessary measures to ensure all artists in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River, Kwale and Taita Taveta were involved.

“The artists will concentrate their work at public places such as markets, schools and main roads to educate the public,” said the NMK official in Malindi on Saturday during a meeting with the artists in the area.

Dr. Kiura said artists play an important role in society especially now that the world is stressed out by coronavirus.

The  Malindi artists expressed their gratitude to the government for coming to their rescue saying through the programme, they were now able to take care of their families during this difficult period of covid-19 pandemic.

“Our work was mainly dependent on tourism industry but since the outbreak of coronavirus, life has taken a heavy beating on us,” said Lenox Ogada who added that many in the culture and recreation industries lost their jobs.

Ogada said Malindi has ten artists who have been recruited to undertake the drawing work and each is paid Sh.15, 000 per month.

He said covid-19 has brought a unique opportunity to rebuild and reimagine a vibrant cultural sector and called for concerted support from all the stakeholders.

He said the stimulus package would offer financial help for artists who have lost income due to coronavirus outbreak.

By  Mohamed Hassan

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