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Artists get training

Nuwa Nnyanzi (R) shows some of the trainees how it is done. Photo/ Edgar R. Batte

To many, art is a passion, but one that can be turned into a business. It is therefore becoming important to acquire more skills that can enable an artist remain relevant in the face of competition and machine engineered art.
The National Arts and Cultural Crafts Association of Uganda (Naccau), next to the National Theatre, is one of the key places lovers of art and crafts find items on display and sale.
Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi, a visual artist and vice chairperson of Naccau says after the announcement of the lockdown, and the measures that were taken to curb the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, players in the creative industry suffered a great deal.
“Businesses were closed and our sources of income were drastically hampered. In an effort to help our members under the National Culture Forum, we appealed to the government under Operation Wealth Creation to give us a stimulus package to kickstart our operations to sustain us and be able to recover from the shock,” Nnyanzi explains.
With the support, Naccau has been able to conduct a three-day skills training workshop on silk screen printing. Members went through interactive learning sessions where they were guided and facilitated by artist and graphic designer, John Mary Kyambadde.
They were able to sketch, cut stencils out of the designs they drew then printed the images on paper. It was an exciting moment for them to see their ideas come to life.
One of the learners, Lillian Bakko, deals in branded merchandise. She says the workshop was a step in the right and relevant direction.
“My business does a lot of branding and printing and I have been spending money by paying people to do it for us but now I have gotten the basics, I am going to keep improving and in the long run we will be saving and reducing costs of operation,” she explains.
Mariam Nandawula, another participant, is in agreement and adds that mentorship and refresher workshops are vital because they help artists diverse and complement their business perspicuity.
“We have learnt screen printing. We first learnt how to sketch. We will learn how to mix colours and then printing. These are some of the skills I have always wanted to learn because art was one of my favourite subjects in high school; at Lubiri Secondary School where I was good at tie and dye. I am happy to be back in class, this time to brand and print, which directly supports my enterprise,” Nandawula observes.
The workshop facilitator, Kyambadde, noted that skilling Naccau members and youth in the speciality of screen printing, has given him an opportunity to share skills he had built over 25 years.
As such, he is happy to be passing on skills to eager folks that are open-minded and will probably enhance it for the better in the fields of branding, labelling and printing which are vital in branding t-shirts, uniforms, gift and paper bags and more.
He adds, “I am open to keep skilling them beyond the basic training we are passing on today.”
Government supported the artists through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. And like author Amit Kalantri says, “Schooling doesn’t assure employment but skill does.”

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