As a way of promoting the livelihoods of Batswana, the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng has revealed that his ministry continues to uphold the preservation of arts and cultural heritage.
Presenting his ministry’s budget last week, he said that they have embarked on a number of initiatives and programmes such as Constituency Arts competitions, President’s Day competitions, and sale of arts and crafts as well as art and craft exhibitions nationwide.
The minister revealed that participation in the President’s Day competitions has progressed from 3,274 artists in 2008 to 12,118 in 2014-2015 and that participation in the Constituency Art competitions has grown from 6,952 in 2010 to a total of 24,447 in 2014-2015.
Olopeng revealed that on intangible cultural heritage, research is currently ongoing in the Ghanzi District to document cultural elements of communities in the area.
Furthermore, Olopeng said that arts and culture provide an opportunity to create employment particularly for the youth.
Currently he stated that his ministry runs the President’s Day competitions and Constituency Art competitions and that in addition, they offer the Arts and Culture Grant at a value of P11,000,000 to promote growth in the arts. He said that he wishes to see an increase in the grant to further stimulate growth and commercialisation of the arts.
Olopeng said that since inception of the initiative in the financial year 2011-2012, sales of art and crafts have moved up from P750,000 to P1,796,000 in the 2014-2015 financial year. He said that an action plan, which commenced in February has been developed covering stakeholder engagement, production of crafts and artworks, marketing and sales.
He added that the plan is to collaborate with Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) in participating in external fairs and that crafts will also be sold at major events such as the desert race, Khawa event, the marathons and others.
He said that in moving forward the ministry will introduce several programmes and that consultations have been initiated with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration for the establishment of an entertainment channel to broadcast content focusing on youth issues. Olopeng said that this would provide employment opportunities for young people who will be engaged in the production of content. Further, he revealed that discussions are ongoing on the utilisation of the Amphitheatre, recording studios and the sports field at the Mass Media Complex to ensure optimal utilisation of the facilities for the benefit of the youth.
He added that the ministry would also procure and avail Marimba and music instruments sets for all 57 constituencies to encourage the youth to form performing arts groups.
Moreover, he said that the National Archives and Records Services houses the national documentary heritage and that access to these documents is only through visits to the premises. He said that there was a general decline of 10 percent in the level of usage of the archives while the size of the collection increased by 20 percent.
The ministry is exploring digitalisation of the records to improve access, Olopeng added.
Concerning library and information, he said that libraries continue to transform the lives of communities in which they are built through various programmes they offer.
Internet access has been a life changer for most rural communities and libraries have demonstrated growth and improved quality in the services they offer, he said.
“Usage of the national reference library has increased by 10 percent while the size of national collection has grown by three percent. He said that the number of people accessing information reference services has grown from 2,281 people in 2013-2014 to 2,498 by February 2014-2015.”
To further enhance access to information, he said that outdoor sitting facilities will be introduced in libraries to enable access to the Internet and that not all users need to go inside the libraries to access it as WI-FI is provided over a 100-meter radius. He added that bandwidth would be increased to improve the speed of Internet access, which he said is currently presenting a challenge.