Joyce Banda Foundation International (JBFI) executive director Edith Akridge says the current status of the dilapidated Blantyre Culture Centre (BCC) is a disgrace to the nation and the foundation will do whatever it can to help the facility retain its old status.
Akridge said this yesterday morning after touring BBC alongside Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Moses Kunkuyu, as part of the response to calls for financial support to help in the rehabilitation of the structure.
During the visit, the foundation donated K2 million (US$4 914) to help in the rehabilitation of the BCC amphitheatre.
“I am shocked and this brings us back. I used to visit this facility some decades ago and it was nice place to be. My grandfather was a musician and this influenced me to love arts. We are losing a lot by not utilising this place. There are no public places where youths can go during weekends or holidays.
“This was supposed to be the place, but it lies idle. Arts is a major priority at JBFI and this donation is just a starter pack, we have seen the mess and we will see what we can do to help the facility retain its old status,” she said.
Akridge said she wants to see the facility with modern musical instruments and other equipment which the youths and other artists can use as part of promoting arts.
She also hinted on the need for a sustainability plan to ensure that the facility maintains its quality once it wears a new face.
Kunkuyu hailed JBFI for the donation and said government is committed to promoting arts and culture. He said it is just sad that it takes time for government money to be processed, but assured Malawians that they are doing whatever possible to uplift the face of the facility.
The JBFI donation comes after the Norwegian Embassy donated K3 million (US$7 371) which has been used to roof the amphitheatre stage.
According to acting director of museums, Lovemore Mazibuko, the rehabilitation of the patrons’ stands need K4.5 million (US$11 057) and they now have a K2.5 million (US$6 143) deficit.
“We are happy that the contractor is doing a good job and I can assure the nation that if we get the deficit, the face of the whole amphitheatre will change within weeks,” he said, adding that the main structure needs about K200 million (US$491 400).