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Much-needed facelift for Kenya National Theatre begins

The total overhaul and refurbishing of the Kenya National Theatre is finally underway.

The entire theatre, from top to bottom, has been gutted with a view to renovating its interior, including the auditorium, seats, sound and lighting systems as well as the stage, rigging, air-conditioning, sanitation system, dance studio, entrance lounge and upstairs bar.

Cleaning and repairing of the external walls will also be included in the ambitious public-private sector project that aims to be completed by March next year at a cost of Sh100 million. Kenya Breweries Ltd is funding the project.

It all began last year when the Kenya@50 Secretariat under the Ministry of Culture invited the private sector to get involved in any one of eight projects designated by the ministry.

“It was Kenya Breweries Ltd that volunteered to take on the task of transforming the Kenya National Theatre into a state-of-the-art cultural venue, and we thank them for that,” said Kenya Cultural Centre executive director Aghan Odero on Wednesday during a Press briefing.

Hassan Wario, the Cabinet secretary Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts who is also the Chairman of the Kenya@50 Secretariat, said it was fitting that one of the oldest companies in the country came forward to support refurbishing of the largest cultural institution in East Africa at a time Kenya was celebrating its heritage.

East African Breweries Ltd corporate relations director Brenda Mbathi noted that KBL is 92-years-old, making it a “big brother” to the National Theatre which turns 62 years.

She added that the face lift would have a positive ripple effect on the performing arts and the artists in Kenya.

Forecasting “a new era in the arts in Kenya”, the vice chair of Kenya Cultural Centre governing council Dorothy Angote-Muya also noted that refurbishing the Kenya National Theatre was bound to strengthen the economy.

“We foresee a time when the newly renovated national theatre will become financially self-sufficient,” she said.