Promote Establishment of Cultural Centres (MGDS II, Theme 1, Subtheme 6 ): Government Acquisition of the French Cultural Centre (now Blantyre Cultural Centre)
The French Cultural Centre was bought by the Government of Malawi in 2012 at MK 300million ($666,667.00) following the decision of the French Embassy to close the facility after they had operated it for 38 years. The purpose was:
- To stimulate the appreciation of the country’s cultural heritage both among Malawians and non-Malawians through performances of various performing arts in the areas of theatre, music, traditional dances, exhibitions and displays as well as offering curatorial services and sale of various artifacts and craft works.
- To help expose to the general Malawian public talented artist through performances and exhibitions.
- To contribute towards socio-economic development by promoting Malawi’s culture abroad through performances and exhibitions.
- To improve the general economic welfare of artists and the country in general through the sales of creative works.
Due to some logistical problems, there was time lapse after the procurement before the handover was done. This led to the facility being vandalized. The facility was opened partially for use by the public but had to be closed for renovations having noticed that it posed as a threat to lives of people wishing to patronize or perform at the centre. The facility is currently closed because we are rehabilitating some parts of it while waiting for more funds for complete rehabilitation.
Challenges identified in the implementation of this measure:
Blantyre Cultural Centre is currently in a dilapidated and unusable state. The project needs about US$700,000 to be fully rehabilitated.
In the few months it was opened between August and December 2012, the Government managed to generate up to MK900,000 ($2,000) from the use of the facility. It is therefore expected that once the rehabilitation works are completed the Blantyre Cultural Centre will be able to provide Government with an extra alternative revenue generation avenue. Furthermore in the few months that it was opened there was a huge demand from artist to use the facility mainly due to the low hiring costs compared to other venues in the city. Therefore, once the facility is operational, artists in the country will have a cheaper venue for their activities.
The facility has an auditorium designed to serve many purposes including providing space for workshops and clinics. The Africa Movie Academy managed to train up to 100 young Malawian filmmakers at the facility.
Furthermore the venue has had a very positive impact on people's enjoyment of diverse expressions by hosting cultural festivals. IFor two years, the facility has been a traditional venue for the Blantyre Arts Festival, one of the leading local festivals that attracts over 500 patrons every year.