There was a lot of fanfare as artists from across the wide spectrum of the performing artists industry gathered last Friday at the Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) aka National Theater to celebrate the grand reopening of the industry after close to two years of pain and joblessness that was brought about by the lockdown to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
The celebrations were led by the State Minister for the elderly Dominic Mafabi Gidudu, who was accompanied by the French Ambassador to Uganda Jules Armand Aniambossou, KCCA executive Director Dorothy Kisaka, Mohammad Reza Ghezelsofla, the Cultural counselor of the Cultural consulate of the Embassy of Iran amid hundreds of notable performers.
Minister Gidudu said while reading his superior Betty Amongi’s speech that : “I would like to reecho government support to the sector as already evidenced through supporting the regional concerts with the aim of directly involving grassroots art which were directly aired on NTV.”
He added that the government had prolonged the reopening in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, given the nature of the sector that requires people to come together and socialize yet it is the best environment through which COVID thrives.
He alluded to some of the measures initiated by the government specifically targeting artists.
”Government is reviewing existing laws aimed at strengthening institutions, and key players in the sector, as well as regulating it. We are strengthening the enforcement of the copyright law through holding meetings with partners like UNCC, National Association of Broadcasters and telecommunication companies among others. We also support the sector by building capacities so that the artists can be competitive locally and internationally. Setting up a one stop center which will help bring together every creation under one spot,” he added.
Francis Peter Ojede, the UNCC Executive Director reflected on the closure with an optimists lenses.
He said that the closure of the sector because of the pandemic helped artists evaluate themselves and learn key issues that are useful to their careers and the sector at large.
He also appreciated the French Embassy for funding the enhancement skills training workshops under the FSPI culture project which were conducted during the lockdown.
“The UNCC organized several training workshops to empower creative and performing artists to deliver improved cultural products. Participants were trained in the areas of portfolio review, directing, dancing, set props and scenic design, sound and light design among others. It was painful but I think, on the other hand, it was a blessing in disguise,” said Ojede.
He also thanked Operation Wealth Creation for helping artists survive the pandemic.
Robert Musiitwa, the Public Relations Officer at the UNCC disclosed that the past two years had been very challenging time for the creative industry and was thankful to French Embassy for having trained artistes to enhance their skills when the curtains were down.
“For two years, the curtains have been down, now the curtains are going up officially and the theater lights are getting back officially in an official manner so we are happy, we are celebrating, we are shouting, we are saying thank you God, thank you government for reopening the sector,” said Musiitwa.
The audience was treated to a buffet, dance piece that was choreographed by Grace Flavia Ibanda, COBWEB, a theatre play on the misconceptions on COVID-19 vaccination and how artistes survived during the lockdown and a performance from legendary musician Diplock Ssegawa where he performed his latest song My Country Uganda.