#JustOneTheatreBW gains momentum

  • Creative Industry advocates for a national theatre
  • The arts must be treated like all the other sectors
  • Creative industry has the potential to create more jobs


During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, president Mokgweetsi Masisi announced that government was yet to finalize a strategy for the country’s creative industries and that artists would have to wait until december to find out if there was anything in the kitty for the struggling sector.  This  has ruffled feathers within the creative industries, and many artist have decried governments continued lack of investment in the sector.  In response to the SONA, industry practitioners across various artistic disciplines have taken to social media to lobby the government  for the establishment of at least one national theatre, rallying under the hast tag #JustOneTheatreBW .

“We have been sidelined and there is a culture of undermining the arts industry in Botswana. In other countries it’s their bread and butter. We believe that with the right facilities and the same attention as other sectors, we could be far,” said Batho Motlhake, pianist, photographer and one of the founders of the cause.

Motlhake added that the arts are much more than the annual President’s day competitions held in July, because like any industry,  they require  deliberate investment, strategic planning and policy creation.  Motlhake said they will pen a position paper that will begin to paint an accurate portrait of the industry and its aspirations.  The overall aim of the #JustOneTheatreBW movement  is to advocate for an arts council as well as meet with the president.

During his address Masisi said this financial year they were allocating a budget of P50 million to construct ten community sport facilities around the country. Motlhake argued that the existing 12 sports facilities were not fully utilized while the creative industry does not have a single national theatre to accommodate their craft.

“The creative industry has a high potential of employing more people compared to sports and that is a fact. We appreciate government’s efforts with their culture exchange programs, but that is at the end of the cycle as we need infrastructure here at home,” he said, adding that they expect a lot from Masisi who is also a creative.

Jazz artist, Kearoma Rantao  fully supports the idea of a national theatre. She believes in an arts centre for Botswana artists with facilities for musical performances, recording studios, workshop areas, educational facilities and professional technical equipment and its ability to create jobs for graduates.
“We have seen economies bloom out there. South Africa is increasingly focusing on cultural and creative industries as potential contributors to economic growth and job creation. This is reflected in the Mzansi Golden Economy report which sets out ways in which the arts, culture and heritage sectors can contribute to the growth and development of South Africa,” she opined.

For his part, promoter Seabelo Modibe said this was a new administration and he hopes Masisi will consult with industry leaders on the realities of the sector. “It will be bad for Masisi to make pronouncements about what he will do for the arts without listening to what we want. Masisi knows as an artist himself we expect more from him and we have a legitimate expectation because he is one of us,” Modibe added.