Revival of arts cooperative in the pipeline

26 September 2018 | Art and Entertainment

The Ondangwa urban constituency is continuing with its efforts to revive the Ohandje Artists Cooperative Ltd, in their quest to create job opportunities.

Constituency councillor Elia Irimari said the process is, however, being made difficult by the lack of support from former cooperative board members.

The Ohandje Art Centre became a white elephant in 2012, after a Swedish organisation stopped funding the centre, leaving about 2 500 members out in the cold. Constituency officials are now trying to revive it.

The Ohandje Artists Cooperative was established in 2005 in Ondangwa and attracted artists - mostly women - from the Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati regions.

However, it closed down in 2012 due to financial constraints.

“We are still busy exploring alternatives to have the Ohandje Artists Cooperative Ltd revived. The only problem is that the former board of directors are not willing to support this. The constituency office, together with a youth organisation in the constituency, have decided to push ahead with the revival plan,” Irimari said.

“The cooperative office-bearers need to be assisted, so that it can continue conducting their business from the place. I have spoken to some of them and they are supporting the idea, and currently we are looking for about four or five volunteers to take charge of the centre.”

Irimari said his office is soliciting funds to assist with the renovation of the centre.

He said his office would like to assist so that the centre reopens as a fully-fledged art centre that will incorporate all components.

“We are faced with high unemployment in the region and in the constituency, while at the same time we have a centre that is standing and not operational,” he said.

Before it closed down, the project was assisting communities by using traditional methods for the creation of baskets and clay pots, among others.

Each year the cooperative made provision for its members to be trained in pottery and basketry by experts. Many visitors from other countries used to visit the centre to buy products.

ILENI NANDJATO

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