Next time you're wandering through the north of Namibia or making your way to Etosha National Park, stray off the beaten track and spend some time in the largest town in the Oshikoto region, Tsumeb. This old mining town has some real gems for the traveller willing to do a bit of exploring. Today we take a look at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Center - an inspiring place where young underprivileged musicians and artists can study and learn to express themselves.
A young child at the Tsumeb Arts and Performance Centre.
The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre is run by a non-profit organisation called the Namibian Art Performance Centres Association (NAPCA). The association currently runs three centres in the northern region of Namibia, they can be found in Tsumeb, Omagalanga, and Oshikuku. Each centre provides a space for local communities to learn how to develop their talents in a variety of artistic mediums.
The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre.
The mediums promoted by these centres range from painting, to acting, to pattern design, to learning how to play an instrument. Basically if there are children interested in any medium or form of art then the NAPCA will try and promote it.
As mentioned the association's primary aim is to particularly promote arts in underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities in Namibia, and through its three centres it is really starting to make a difference in local communities.
Children are able to learn a variety of instruments and skills
at the Arts Performance Centres.
When we visited Tsumeb we were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with one of NAPCA’s founders, Lis Hidber, who spends most of her time in Namibia at the Tsumeb centre. During our time with her Lis gave us a tour of the facilities and described the kind of work that they do.
A statue at the entrance of the centre.
As soon as we started walking around the grounds we were struck at how much time and hard work had gone into the development of the property on which the centre stands.
The cheerily coloured murals and beautifully maintained gardens provide the students with a relaxing space in which to pursue their artistic ambitions. The abundance of classrooms and open courtyards further allows students time to mingle with one another and learn the famously cloudless blue Namibian sky.
One of the many murals painted on the centre's classrooms.
A harp waiting to be played in the courtyard.
Instead of relying on importing teachers from other regions or countries, the Tsumeb centre employs mostly local community members to run the classes and the results have been fantastic. We witnessed firsthand the dedication of the team of teachers and the centre was a hive of activity all day.
Three boys receiving instruction.
Each rondavel on the property is dedicated to a group of instruments and we were fortunate enough to be allowed to peek our heads into a few of these classrooms to see what the teachers and students were getting up to.
The children were all very keen on their instruments and projects, and like children everywhere, most were extremely eager to display their talents to anyone who showed an interest.
These two young boys were part of a talented band of marimba players.
The students are committed to their instruments and this is thanks
to the tireless work of the school's teachers.
These girls took a break from playing their harps to pose for a photo.
The centre does not only hone children's artistic abilities... The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre also teaches students at the centre, and members of the nearby communities, how to build, repair and maintain the musical instruments used at the centre.
The workshop can be found at the heart of the APC in Tsumeb. The boys, girls, men and women in the workshop can restring, restore, and even build entirley new instruments that are then used by the students at the centre. So talented is the team at the workshop that some large musical instrument dealers in Windhoek send their instruments to Tsumeb for repairs.
A cello waiting to repaired outside the workshop.
All the instruments used at the APC are maintained by employess that
receive training at the centre.
The centre relies almost entirely on private donations and Lis’s home country Austria is a massive source of funds for NAPCA and its centres. But any support, from anywhere, is always greatly appreciated and thoughtfully used.
If you wish to make any donations, financial or otherwise, then send NAPCA an email to their address which you can find here.
Inside one of the centre's classrooms...
Many of the instruments have been donated by private citizens.
Getting to Tsumeb will take about six hours by car if you are driving from Windhoek. The route follows the B1 which is in good condition and relatively easy going. If you need to hire a car once you get to Namibia then follow this link for some rental agencies.
If you cannot drive, or do not want to drive yourself, then don't panic! Intercape is a bus company that operates in certain regions of Namibia and there is a bus that travels between Tsumeb and Windhoek.
The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre's operating hours and contact details.
Feel free to call and ask how you can get involved with their projects.
The entire experience at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre was fantastic and a visit to the centre should be considered by any traveller exploring the north of Namibia. It was extremely moving to see children using the centre's program to learn how to play and master instruments usually reserved for the more financially fortunate segments of Namibia.