Ministry of Sports and Culture has finally put Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) in its Public Sector Investment Plan, a prioritised development plan which government and its development partners have committed to fund.
The BCC project is estimated to cost K350 million (about $516 246) and will run for two and half years.
The ministry said this in response to an inquiry from The Nation on government’s commitment to refurbish the dilapidated centre whose state is negatively affecting the economic status of artists who use the facility for live shows.
Said the ministry’s spokesperson Christopher Mbukwa: “Admittedly, the centre has been in ruins for quite some time; however, government through the Ministry of Sports and Culture is working to restore the centre to a usable state. The BCC has been included in the Public Sector Investment Plan.”
Government purchased the facility from the French government at K300 million (about $442 496), but delays in handing over the centre led to vandalism at the facility. Equipment, including drums and guitars, were stolen.
Mbukwa said that some project activities to refurbish the centre have commenced during the 2015/16 budget year with an annual budgetary allocation of K75 million (about $110 624).
He said: “So far, an assessment to establish the condition of the centre was conducted which gave a picture of the extent of damage to the facilities at BCC.
“We established the bills of quantities and estimated the associated cost of materials. Requests for quotations have since been sourced and approved for electrical installations, plumbing, carpentry, painting and roof waterproofing works from small building and electrical contractors. The selected contractor will soon start the works.”
The country’s arts associations and individual artists have been voicing out concerns over the lack of affordable venues, hence the call on government to speed up the renovation works at the centre.
“All that we need is a listening government which can walk the walk the talk on arts development,” said author Alfred Msadala.
Veteran musician and former chairperson of Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM), Patrick Simakweli, said government should fulfil the promise it made to artists to refurbish the facility.