Gerald Langiri
September 08 / 2015

President Uhuru Kenyatta joined the arts and culture fraternity in commissioning the newly revamped ultra-modern Kenya National Theatre which has been refurbished by Kenya Breweries Limited in collaboration with the Government of Kenya on Friday 4th September 2015.

The Theatre has received a complete internal and external overhaul covering the auditorium, seats, sound and lighting system, the rigging, air-conditioning, entrance lounge, main front face, sanitation as well as powerhouse and water storage facilities installation at a total cost of Ksh 130 million.

Speaking at the Theatre, the President noted that the arts industry in the country is rapidly gaining exposure beyond borders and called upon the thespians to take advantage of the enhanced and modernized facilities to export the country’s culture through music and dance.

“Arts and culture is becoming a voice that not only tells the Kenyan story, but is also an avenue for the youth to gain employment. I encourage the various stakeholders to leverage these facilities to sell the Kenyan brand,” said President Kenyatta.

The refurbishment was identified by the Kenya@50 Project Secretariat as one of the flagship initiatives to celebrate the country’s 50 years of independence.

The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts Dr. Hassan Wario, who is also the Chairman of the Secretariat, noted that the face-lift would transform the arts in the country, attracting both local and foreign audiences and investors.

“Turning the Arts and Culture sector around is a mammoth task that needs the collaborative effort of both the Government and private sector players. The revamping of this Theatre should contribute even more profoundly towards developing artistic skills and enable us to locally consume and export our entertainment production, effectively supporting the government in fostering growth and deepening talent in this sector,” noted Dr. Wario.

On her part, Kenya Breweries Limited Managing Director, Jane Karuku noted that the company was attracted to the National Theatre project by virtue of the deep historical legacy that they both share and the immense potential that exists in the Arts and Culture industry to nurture and develop the youth’s talent in Kenya keen on supporting the growth of the entertainment sector.

“This development is a clear example of a meaningful link between the private sector and the government in an effort to create employment for the youth. At KBL, we appreciate that as one of the most dynamic and productive demographic segments of Kenya’s population, neither the government nor the private sector can singly deliver on the evolving needs of youth. The choice to partner the government in reviving operations and bringing back the shine of the National Theatre demonstrates our commitment to support the youth empowerment agenda,” noted Ms. Karuku.

Besides the aesthetic appeal that has been delivered by the new look, the refurbishment project looks to establish a sustainable avenue for the Kenya National Theatre to attract increased patronage and generate more revenue, to sustain itself through the years to come under the Kenya Culture Centre.

The Kenya National Theatre, a key reference point in the career of most established actors in Kenya, has over the last six decades served generations of budding talent and accomplished artistes. But the building, as well as core facilities critical for talent development, have over the years suffered the vagaries of time falling into total disrepair.

Kenya Cultural Centre Director (KCC) Aghan Odero noted that the revamp of the Theatre will be instrumental in establishing a solid arts sector that will potentially position Kenya on the global arts industry map.

KCC has already recruited well-trained professionals in critical areas of arts production setting the stage for the return of hundreds of performers at the iconic establishment. 

Click here to view pictures from the opening.

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