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Artists bemoan delays in BCC renovation

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Some artists have bemoaned the delay in completion of the rehabilitation work at Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) formerly French Cultural Centre.

Despite government coughing about K300 million when the French government was closing the centre, the once mighty entertainment mecca was later ransacked by thieves in 2011 and has remained in a dilapidated state for nine years.

Artists took turns writing on social media expressing worry over the state of affairs at the centre.

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Musician Marco Sadik wrote that he was worried that BCC was still in a poor state.

“I hope the government maintains the place. I look back with fond memories, I have had great performances,” said Sadik who is now based in Kenya.

Renowned South Africa based guitarist Erik Paliani opined that if artists were given a chance to manage the facility, they would handle it better.

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Most artists observed that there was lack of seriousness on the part of the government to bring the facility back to life saying it was a missed opportunity as the facility has the capacity of generating millions of kwacha.

“The government needs to wake up from its slumber because that place is a money spinner. Why is it taking long for them to finish the renovations? It’s been long for sure and 2011 is long,” one of the artists, wondered.

In April this year, arts associations penned the government asking to be accommodated in some of the offices.

Director of Arts Humphrey Mpondaminga said the renovations are now in phase three which is involving fixing the parametre fence and the manager’s house.

“Artists may feel like we are taking long but we are making progress, there is a process to this and we have to work with other ministries as well. Sometimes, the delay is because of funding but for those, who have visited the facility now, will agree with me that there is progress. We are also set to renovate the Amphitheatre,” Mpondaminga said.

He also said that the request by arts associations to occupy some of the offices at BCC was received and that it was being looked into with utmost urgency.

Mawu President Sambalikagwa Mvona said many arts associations do not have offices at the moment.

BCC has hosted several entertainment events as well as high profile artists among them, Mali’s Salif Keita and the late mbira star Oliver Mtukudzi.

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi, is expected to visit the facility this week as well as meeting artists.

Usi is also expected to visit a military museum in Zomba.

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