Rehoboth Baster Community

Rural Arts Centre Still Going Strong

Published by Feb 15, 2008

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After 11 years of loyally and regularly serving the Rehoboth arts fraternity and the community at large, the Rehoboth School of Arts still forges ahead with little or no assistance in its creative mission. 

“We are only assisted with staff salaries, water and power by the College of the Arts, otherwise we do things independently here at the arts centre, which this year boasts of more than 200 art students. Among them are two keen European students attending guitar lessons,” said the founder of the centre, artist Andrew van Wyk. He and his wife, Charmaine, have been running the art school for the past 11 years.

“Presently, the part-time staff is very unhappy about the contract with the National Arts Extension Programme. The contract emphatically states that we are appointed on an annual basis, but we only receive salaries for 10 months of the year. This is something we cannot understand nor accept. We will continue to agitate about this injustice,” said a determined Van Wyk, on behalf of his staff of four tutors. He is expecting a much-needed consignment of musical instruments as a donation from the German Embassy by next week.

“We are really struggling in the music section due to a dire lack of keyboards and a properly equipped piano. There is a huge demand from students to master these two instruments, in particular. The donation of N$30 000 also includes educational art books,” he said, from his modest office.

The artist, working on a solo exhibition for display abroad in Germany next year, has initiated a collaborative art programme with the JMac arts centre in the capital.

“An exchange of creative ideas in the visual art forms an important element to help break the isolation many of the Namibian artists work in and find themselves. Cross-pollination of creative ideas is a necessity. Hence the fact that we welcome other artists to come and exhibit at out centre,” Van Wyk said of the art school, which currently accommodates a student art exhibition. The well-known artist is adamant in his refusal for the past few years, to exhibit his works inside the country.

“There are too many hassles within the local visual arts fraternity causing some sort of dark hole of creative stagnation among artists. This is not good for art development at all,” Van Wyk, who also deplored the notion that Namibian artists have to register with the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture as required by the newly established National Arts Council.

“I am very sceptical about this requirement of the National Arts Council and I smell a rat. I am an acknowledged visual artist. Why do I need to register to qualify for financial assistance from this body? I don’t even belong to any artist union in the country and prefer working on my own,” said the artist, who has in the past exhibited in Germany and participated in the now defunct Standard Bank Biennale.

Source: NewEra