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Found this fantastic project that's going to transform part of the industrial area for good and hopefully jumpstart a new arts/culture district. The Godown art center has really helped a ton of people transform there lives. I remember when i bought a Micheal Soi paintings here and its one of my favorites. I would love to see it modernized into a proper modern space.​
 
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FOR 15 YEARS THE GODOWN HAS SERVED AS A HOME, WORKPLACE, MEETING PLACE AND ADDRESS FOR ARTISTS, AND HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR STABILITY, LEGITIMACY, VISIBILITY AND CREATIVE CONFIDENCE. THE STRENGTH OF THE GODOWN AS ONE OF KENYA’S LEADING CENTRES FOR ARTS AND CULTURE LIES IN ITS DIVERSE PROGRAMMING: THE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OF ARTISTS, ALONGSIDE SECTOR IMPACTING EVENTS SUCH AS THE EAST AFRICA ARTS SUMMIT, THE CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND COPYRIGHT COURSES, AND LOCAL EVENTS SUCH AS DUNDA MTAANI, NAI NI WHO AND THE GODOWN GIG. NOW THE GODOWN PLANS TO TRANSFORM ITSELF INTO ONE OF EAST AFRICA’S LEADING CONTEMPORARY ARTS COMPLEXES, AND TO SIGNIFICANTLY EXPAND ITS ROLE AS AN OPEN, ACCESSIBLE COMMUNITY SPACE FOR KENYANS. THE GODOWN IS REACHING OUT TO YOU TO JOIN THIS JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION. IT IS HISTORIC AND EXCITING. DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THE TRANSFORMATION?

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·


The Godown Arts Centre


TOGETHER WE CAN BUILD THE NEW GODOWN. SO FAR, THE GODOWN BOARD AND STAFF HAVE RAISED USD1MILLION. THAT’S 50% OF WHAT IS NEEDED FOR PHASE 1 OF THE FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN. NOW WE WANT TO RAISE ANOTHER US$1 MILLION FROM OUR COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, AND FANS OF THE CREATIVE SECTOR. THAT WILL COMPLETE THE NUCLEUS OF OUR FUND-RAISING STRATEGY. WILL YOU BE A GODOWN “TRANSFOMA” LIKE THOSE ON BOARD BELOW?
The expansion needs funding. So they're fundraising for funds which I think this place can easily get funding. If Kenyans came together I bet they can easily raise $5million dollars to help in funding the project completely.​
 

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Found this fantastic project that's going to transform part of the industrial area for good and hopefully jumpstart a new arts/culture district. The Godown art center has really helped a ton of people transform there lives. I remember when i bought a Micheal Soi paintings here and its one of my favorites. I would love to see it modernized into a proper modern space.
I thought I was the only Soi fan here. He must be the most prolific Kenyan painter that I know of. I'm sure some of you would recognise his characters (Afro wearing women, randy men with beady eyes "macho ya kando" in compromising situations) as they feature in a large number of entertainment spots and contemporary venues.

soi by Kenguy*, on Flickr

Another major artist from this centre is Kevin Oduor. He's behind most of those statues you see around Nairobi...Kimathi, Tom Mboya, freedom fighters in Uhuru park e.t.c.

Glad this place is getting the attention it deserves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I thought I was the only Soi fan here. He must be the most prolific Kenyan painter that I know of. I'm sure some of you would recognise his characters (Afro wearing women, randy men with beady eyes "macho ya kando" in compromising situations) as they feature in a large number of entertainment spots and contemporary venues.

soi by Kenguy*, on Flickr

Another major artist from this centre is Kevin Oduor. He's behind most of those statues you see around Nairobi...Kimathi, Tom Mboya, freedom fighters in Uhuru park e.t.c.

Glad this place is getting the attention it deserves.
Great artist I know we got a few more fans.

I’d love to see his art get animated into a series because it’s that good.
 

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DN: SATURDAY MARCH 9 2019
Sh2 billion GoDown complex to give the art scene major facelift


Ms Joy Mboya, the executive director of The GoDown Arts Centre, is amazed that my first question to her is whether the ambitious Sh2 billion new GoDown complex is pushing the boundaries of the impossible.

“I’ve heard the question: ‘Is it really going to happen?’ a number of times from Kenyans and I’m often amazed by it. Why start something that I’m not going to finish?" she says in her characteristic wit.

"The notion of possibility and impossibility for me is a question of capacity and belief and one of the things that this project is bringing to life is just how much we (Kenyans) don’t believe in our dreams.”

The new GoDown Arts Centre will break ground in August 2019.

Once completed in August 2021, it will be the first major public complex for performing and visual arts to be built since Kenya’s independence in 1963.

GROUND-BREAKING MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT

The complex is a ground-breaking mixed-use development on 30,000 square metres of built area.

It will deliver educational and stimulating cultural resources to Kenyan youth, Kenyan families, arts organisations, creatives and visitors.

Some of the resources include a 300-seat multipurpose auditorium, three storeys of art galleries, a two-storey library or digital resource centre, a children’s creative studio, a youth recreational centre and 20 visual art studios.

The new GoDown Arts Centre started with a dream.

And Joy knows a thing or two about believing in one’s dreams. The architect-turned musician was the lead singer of the all-girl band Musikly Speaking. They ruled the music scene in the early 1990s with hits like ‘Jamriambo’, ‘Lovers (Stop The Fighting)’ and ‘Saturday Nite’.

She worked as an architect during the day and a singer and songwriter in the evenings.

In 1993, she moved to Sydney, Australia, for a post-graduate diploma in voice at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts. She eventually came back to Kenya and co-founded The GoDown Arts Centre in 2003.

The centre is a non-profit facility that provides subsidised space for Kenyan artistes and public programmes for local audiences.

It sits on a renovated 10,000 square-metre warehouse with studios, rehearsal and performance spaces.

It is home to Nairobits, Buni TV, the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, Ketebul Music and The African Bonfire.

“Sometimes I wondered why The GoDown was not growing beyond what they were already doing. It’s about time. Who else would have done that better than them?” poses Ken Khero, a training coordinator with Nairobits.

One of The GoDown artists, Grace Muthoka, is equally excited about the project: “I am looking forward to see the transformation of that space and the impact, especially on the younger generation. I see this new area not only fostering a vibrant art community but also increasing public interaction by pulling many into its activities and platform,” she says.

BEGINNING OF THE DREAM

But it was not until 2005 when they bought the space where The GoDown sits that Joy and her team started dreaming of a new art centre; a space for community, culture and creativity that would last for the next 100 years.

“We began to ask ourselves questions like: What is the role and place of The GoDown in the Kenyan society and how does the space work? What is the meaningful relationship that we can have with the city? We began to do things within the mtaas (hoods) of Nairobi. Projects like ‘Dunda Mtaani’ and ‘Nai Ni Who?’ were born of such conversations,” she says.

Community artists predominantly occupied the stage in ‘Dunda Mtaani’, held in places like Korogocho, Kibera, Huruma, Kawangware, Buruburu, Riruta and California. ‘Nai Ni Who?’ on the other hand, was an exploration of the good, the bad and the possibilities of Nairobi through art.

“We asked ourselves: How does The GoDown, as a physical facility, also sit and locate within the city and, if we were to redesign it, how would it work?”

SWEDISH CONNECTION

A Swedish partner and friend of The GoDown, Pratik Vithlani, was part of these discussions of the exploration of creative economies and they turned to him for links and advice on who, in Sweden, could walk with them in the idea of exploring cultural spaces within the city.

They asked him if he knew any architects in Sweden who would be willing to walk the journey of exploring the idea of cultural spaces within the city with them, and it turned out he did.

Pratik introduced The GoDown team to Ulrika Stenkula of White Architects based in Stockholm, Sweden. The firm prides itself in creating resilient architecture to inspire sustainable ways of life.

“It turns out that the firm makes these trips around the world to understand best practices in architecture, issues and challenges and how do they as a firm engage with the question of cities and communities at a global scale,” explains Joy.

And Ulrika embraced Joy’s dream, too.

“I was engaged and inspired by Joy’s vision and spirit so we came in to support her vision of having a meeting place to explore creativity and their identity,” says Ulrika, comparing it with the Stockholm House of Culture, a symbolic building which is situated in the heart of Stockholm. The centre holds a number of culture, art and design events every year and is open to everybody.

“It’s an opportunity for Nairobi to add to its city centre,” she says, adding that architects from the firm work pro bono on the project as their contribution.

After five years of collaborating with White Architects on questions to do with urban identity and sustainable urban design, and thorough, immersive research, The GoDown and White Architects began work on a vision for a new GoDown, drawing on insights from their engagement with the communities around The GoDown Arts Centre.

In 2016, Planning Systems Services, based in Nairobi, came on board as they had been involved in the workshops that The GoDown and White Architects had been holding in Nairobi up until then.


Joy Mboya (in maroon jacket) with architects from White Architects in Sweden and Planning Systems (Kenya) going over the new GoDown plans. PHOTO| THE GODOWN ARTS CENTRE
“We are proud to contribute to the next chapter of The GoDown story: A vibrant culture space and living room for all Nairobians, Kenyans and their guests,” Ulrika adds.

FUNDRAISING

The fundraising process started with The GoDown staff.

“Charity begins at home and The GoDown board contributed Sh100 million ($1 million) towards the project. It was then that we turned to the mwananchi (ordinary individuals) and did a series of fundraising campaigns to ask them to match that contribution.

We interviewed some of the Kenyans who gave towards the building of the new GoDown and one young lady said she gave because she loved H_art the Band, who had taken part in the promotional videos; where they spoke about why they were supporting the new GoDown Arts Centre. Sustainability will not come from international donors. We want to start to build the culture of envisioning, owning the dream, building it and then sustaining it,” adds Joy.

She has been inspired by the fundamental generosity of Kenyans while fundraising for this project and is still calling upon them to continue being part of The GoDown’s transformation.

The GoDown will target corporates and the Government next for financial support and the conversations will begin this year as they continue to nurture the international structures.

What scares Joy the most in this project is the lack of faith by those who don’t see the end of the project. She has never lost faith in it.

“This is part of my journey in life. It’s about what I’m enabling or facilitating in the art space. I can never lose that. That’s not how my head operates.”

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
 
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The GoDown: Moving arts into the future
SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Stevens Muendo | August 15th 2021

How the new look GoDown Arts Centre will look after Sh2 billion redevelopment.
My last visit at the GoDown Arts Centre was in July 2016. This was during the Nai Ni Who festival, an initiative aimed at showcasing the diverse cultures in Nairobi.
The annual festival is one of the GoDown Arts - the most popular private performing and visual arts centre in the capital - programmes dedicated to giving the city a cultural identity.

Many artists call the place home. It is a pot that unpacks Kenya’s national identity.
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But the Dunga Road, Nairobi, situated creative hub has its gate closed, and the operation temporarily moved across town to Kayahwe Road, Kilimani.

This is the same spot I met Tabu Osusa, the legendary singer, producer and author behind the Ketebul production studio, a month ago.
The GoDown Arts Centre is being rebuilt into the first major public complex for performing and visual arts to be built since Kenya’s independence.
The new look centre is designed to be an inclusive and collaborative space, with creative, performing and visual arts studios, galleries and a youth recreational centre, among other facilities.

It will have, among others; a multipurpose auditorium, art galleries, visual artist studios, youth recreational centre, children’s creative studios, film and media studios and music and dance studios.
Meanwhile, at the new offices, a few exhibitors and arts training enterprises still carry on business.
“We are very excited about this transformation. The new rebuilt GoDown is a scale-up of the original place, three and a half times. The space that we occupied was about 7,000 square metres. We are going to about 25,000 square metres. It will be bigger than the Kenya National Theatre complex,” says Joy Mboya, GoDown Arts executive director.
“We are getting into the fundraising and we are trying to see how this particular building can be built with local support. Every Kenyan who will make a contribution will have their name inscribed somewhere in the building. Any contribution is important,” she says.
Joy has been the face of GoDown Arts Centre since it opened its doors in 2003. It was structured as a home, workplace, meeting place and an address for artistes.
The idea was to develop a diverse programme for training and development of artistes and art programmes.
Joy says that back in the 1970s and 1980s, individuals dedicated to the arts always fell in between the cracks. There were no concerted efforts towards the development of the arts as was the case in the other sectors.
“GoDown began with the interest of European and American funders trying to see how arts and democracy can be aligned. Of course, they were not coming in purely around the arts. They were doing so to promote democracy issues as freedom of expression is one that a number of funders begun to see as an area to support through art,” says Joy.
The performer, cultural activist and outspoken advocate for artistes recalls how the 2000s came with a wind that pushed for a change in democracy and how arts became part of the multiple voices for this change.
Music groups such as the Gidi Gidi Majimaji Hip Hop group came up with the revolutionary Unbwogable hit, whose lyrics were skewed towards political change.
I ask Joy if this was a major reawakening time that could have defined that arts and democratic space.

Choreographic Artists perform their art during the Choreographic conversations at Godown Arts Center.[David Gichuru,Standard]
“Yes, it was. But reawakening is a word that one uses carefully because when you go back to post-independence when the Paa ya Paa Gallery was being set up, you acknowledge the early artistes like Ezekiel Mphahlele. Life goes in cycles and that is why it is important to look at history, or else one might think it has never been done before,” she says.
Established in 1965, Paa ya Paa art gallery is one of Kenya’s oldest and East Africa’s biggest indigenous art gallery.
The gallery was set up to preserve art and culture in East Africa and promote the work of artists, musicians, poets and writers through exhibits and sales.
And come November 1997, fire engulfed the gallery, destroying the great historical collection that included sculptures, artefacts, paintings and more than 7,000 books.
Other art and cultural centres of the time included Sir Malin and Lady Sorsbie Gallery – which was based inMuthaiga, Nairobi, the New Stanley Gallery and the Chemichemi Cultural Centre. The Sorsbie Gallery's director was Mphahlele from South Africa.
Mphahlele, an activist in arts, culture and educational matters is one of the most revered writers and scholars, known for his literary works.
Regionally, before GoDown cxame to be, there was a disconnect across East African countries on the arts and cultural front. The Ford Foundation had begun to connect with artistes in Kampala, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam and this gave GoDown and its activities a regional image.
Joy says that one thing GoDown got from this regional reach was an opportunity to create a regional entrepreneurship progamme where the institute would have artistes and creative industry leaders have residency training.

GoDown Arts Centre executive director Joy Mboya.
In building a community with common principles, they developed similar training in Uganda and Tanzania and begun exchanging skills with like minds like the organisers of the now popular Sauti za Busara festival, an annual event held in Zanzibar.
In reflection, Joy realises that art has always been a passion, and that she has always sat between the arts and sciences. She reminisces that if the coin fell differently, she would now be a scientist.
“I love the sciences as well. I am dead right in the middle. I love the idea of being very rigorous and intentional about facts and figures. I am also passionate about creativity, expression and innovation. All through my education, I was always doing both. In high school I took music the same way I took Physics and Chemistry,” she says.
The Alliance Girls High School alumnae recalls that music was a lifestyle for all students then.
“Whether you liked it or not, you had to sing. Music was very much a part of Alliance, whether in the choir or small groups and we were very competitive in the music festivals. That for me was a very important space that I loved," she says.
Joy was a former Musikly Speaking band member, an all-women group, which blended Kenyan folk songs and Western harmonies before breaking up in 1989.
She had just returned to Nairobi from Princeton University when she found out the band members had moved on.
“I do not really miss the band because just like everything else, human beings move in cycles. Once something has shaped you, you move on,” she says.
Today, Joy focuses her energy on rebuilding the GoDown Arts Centre.
 
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