We spent six months in Tanzania talking with Government, all the art organisations and artists themselves. We had the right message at the right time and the Government has given full support. For the first time it wants something to be done to support artists and carvers.
The Hon Nape Nnauye the Minister of Culture, Information and Sport has offered us three to five hundred acres of land in the Lindi Region, the home of Mekondi carving. Lindi is a development area, relying on agriculture but soon its economy will change dramatically with the exploitation of the gas fields. The land we have been offered has an Indian ocean beach frontage and lagoon, close to Lindi Bay, and visited by whales and porpoises. It is two hours drive from Selous Game Reserve, (the size of Switzerland) the larges and least visited game reserve in Africa which sees the mass animal migrations.
In the short term we have been offered the Jamatkhan in Bagamoyo, an hour and a half from Dar es Salem and also on the Indian ocean. The building is a mosque built by Arabs for the Ismaili community in 1860 and has fallen into in to disuse, but structurally is sound and we would restore it as a historic building The Aga Khan Foundation liking our proposal for an arts centre and are in discussion about us taking over the building. Our colleagues in Tanzania believe it would be an excellent first step to shop window our approach
The President of the Artists Federation, representing all the visual arts, the Director of the National Arts Council and the Director of the National Museum are all giving the project their backing as they believe that it could answer a major need in the country and region. The centre willd provide proper working conditions for artists and carvers, where they can develop relationships with the international market including interior designers, as has happened in
Cheng Mai in Thailand on which the model is based. In addition it will ensure that carvers have proper tools, and not handmade tools, and respond to their requests for English and IT support. Most importantly it will promote awareness internationally of the richness of East African art through programs for international arts students who can work with African artists while scuba diving in the India Ocean, and cultural tourism. Those who want to see not only the beauty of Africa and its wildlife, but to understand firsthand the art and the cultural thinking that lies behind it.
Currently we are in London meeting with those who might have an interest in investing in this the cultural tourism side of the venture.
If you would be part of our project either as a volunteer or investor please telephone Riki on +44 7812691071. or Alan +44 7967337404.