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                 THURSDAY 20 MAY 2010

                       1830 HRS


Director of Ceremonies
All Cabinet Ministers
Members of Parliament
The Gaborone City Mayor, Hon. Veronica Lesole
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Heads of Organisations
All Stakeholders
All Dignitaries
All Senior Government Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening

1.    It is my honour and privilege to officiate at the official opening of the
      Exhibition of Phase 1 designs of the Botswana National Arts Institute
      (BNAI), a project initiated by the Botswana Society for the Arts (BSA).

Ladies and Gentlemen,
2.   This event marks an important milestone achievement regarding the
     partnership that subsists between the Ministry of Youth, Sport and
     Culture and its critical stakeholders – the arts industry. The arts
     industry is actively providing, through its efforts, more ways to diversify
     our country’s economy. I am particularly hopeful that its contribution
     to the Gross National Product will become more visible. It also fulfils
     one of the goals of the, “National Policy on Culture 2001”, which states
     “to stimulate and foster creativity in all spheres of National life so that
     Batswana can continue to improve the quality of their own life whilst
     making their original contribution towards the vast store of human

Distinguished Guests,
3.    The objective of this exhibition is, to display the architectural
      blueprints, landscaping, interior design, and commissioned artworks
      for the first phase of the building programme; as well as a portrayal of
      the structure of the institute and the courses to be offered.

4.    BNAI, is an initiative of the Botswana Society for the Arts and it is the
      biggest project since the society’s foundation 14 years ago. The need for
      such a school was publicly endorsed at two stakeholder conferences
      held by the BSA in 1997 and 2000. In December 2001, when
      Government provided a site for the construction of the school in
      Gaborone, the BSA was assisted by the Association of Botswana
      Architects to hold a national competition to choose a design concept for

      the school. The winning concept was the work of the late Kagiso
      Molefhe. His architectural firm, Group 9 Architects, was contracted to
      develop the detailed designs for the school. Government, through
      Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs approved P10 million to assist
      with this process, and tax relief for donations to the school was
      approved through the Ministry of Education.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

5.    In 2009, the European Union funded two consultants to work on
      academic programmes to be offered at the School, and to help identify
      sources of funding for its construction. The result was a unique
      proposal: a Strategic Plan for the Botswana National Arts Institute.

Director of Ceremonies,
6.    This is a very exciting concept that expands the original idea of the
      School of Arts to include entrepreneurship training, so as to enable its
      students to emerge equipped for immediate employment or self-
      employment, both within and outside Botswana. As such, it aligns
      perfectly with Botswana’s National Human Resource Development
      Strategy. In particular, it targets the untapped potential of the many
      artistically talented young people who represent a sector of society that
      is largely undeveloped because they are outside the academic

      Without training, the potential of this natural artistic talent can never
      be fully realised, nor can those who have it compete internationally.
      The Strategic Plan for the Botswana National Arts Institute will not only
      provide such training, but will also ensure that it is rooted in
      Botswana’s culture. It will go hand in hand with entrepreneurship
      training to produce artists with the business skills that are essential for
      survival in the highly competitive global market place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
7.   The Plan also provides an effective way back into education for
     unemployed youth by offering them practical education in subjects that
     are by their nature a joy to learn and engage in. Here is a highly
     stimulating alternative to technologically-based, scientific education,
     and many children, if given the opportunity to return to education
     through engaging in the arts, they would seize the opportunity.

Distinguished Guests,

8.    You are all aware that unemployment is not only demoralising, it is also
      a health risk. The Arts Institute will offer children at risk from HIV and
      AIDS and associated social ills healthy alternatives to life on the streets,
      and eventually real employment opportunities. At the same time, arts
      can support these children at risk with their own personal development
      and practical life skills, thus enabling growth in their self-esteem and

      BNAI students will not only witness these enterprises in action, they
      will also actively participate in the enterprises through placement
      programmes where they will learn by apprenticeship as much as by
      didactic instruction. This is a highly original idea, and one that
      supports current Government efforts to diversify the economy and
      create sustainable jobs.

Distinguished Guests,
9.    The Arts Institute will represent a much-needed source of public
      entertainment and recreation. The existence of the theatre, the cultural
      nightclub and the arts and crafts enterprises, in addition to their
      potential for local job creation, will encourage visitors to enjoy the site
      as a recreational area. It will provide additional income and consumers
      for BNAI activities while at the same time stimulating entrepreneurial
      creativity in Gaborone and helping to make Gaborone more attractive as
      a focus of cultural tourism.

10. This exhibition which showcases the designs of Phase 1 of BNAI which
     is the performing arts block. The architects have now completed this
     phase which is the most technically complex and expensive phase of
     the detailed design.

     I have been informed that this phase incorporates what will become
     Botswana’s first purpose-built theatre. The theatre seats 420 people
     and it will be a state-of-the-art facility. It will serve both as a training
     ground for students in the School and as a much-needed public
     entertainment venue, with the theatre foyer doubling as a beautifully
     designed art gallery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
11. As soon as construction is under way, the BSA will hold a competition
     for further artworks to be included in the finished structures.

      The BNAI will be a haven of natural beauty and artistic creativity in the
      centre of Gaborone. It will bring new life to the capital and, through its
      outreach work, the rest of Botswana.

12.   Bagaetsho, my Ministry is a long-standing partner of the BSA and we
      are fully committed to supporting the Arts Institute, but we cannot
      afford to go it alone. While funding partners are being sought locally
      and internationally, we are also appealing to the local and regional
      business community to enter into this partnership following the
      admirable example of Aon, Native Impressions and Limkokwing
      University of Creative Technology who have been providing a lot of
      support to the BNAI project. I would like to encourage them to keep up
      the support to ensure that the arts take their rightful place in
      Botswana’s economy and society at large.

      As you will see when you look at the plans, the National Arts Institute
      offers an opportunity for the kind of investment rarely considered in
      Botswana: to brand a building. In other parts of the world this is
      commonplace. When will it happen here? I therefore urge all of you,
      including the Private sector, to invest in the Arts Institute and assist
      Government in its efforts to develop the arts.

13.   Director of Ceremony, allow me to applaud BSA for initiating a
      concept of this magnitude and importance. The achievement of this
      project will ensure that we all realise the National Vision 2016 pillar of
      being “A United and Proud Nation by 2016”.

      Here is a unique opportunity for all of us, NGOs, Government and the
      private sector. An opportunity that will enable us to create a training
      facility of great beauty that will secure the future of artists in years to
      come. The BSA has remained faithful to this vision for 14 years: it is
      time for us to help them turn it into reality.

14.   Bagaetsho, it is now my pleasure to declare this exhibition officially