The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Inema Arts Centre

It was a celebration of creative minds as Inema Arts Centre located in Kacyiru hosted a special exhibition to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo-or the fifth of May, an important cultural holiday in the United States on Saturday.

Celebrated predominantly in areas with large Mexican-American populations, the events commemorate the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

The Centre director, Shane Bartlett could not hide his joy; "Today's event is one of the examples why we are different from other traditional art galleries, our center is not only a place where finished work of art hangs on the walls and people come, look and leave, our place is alive in fostering creativity," he explains

Inema Arts Centre was founded in 2012 by self-taught brothers Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza. The center provides space for ten artists to explore their creative talent. They specialize on contemporary African arts, crafts, music and dance.

"We started Inema Arts Centre to tap into and collaborate with upcoming and highly creative artists. We provide opportunities and exposure for a productive livelihood. If my life changed as an artist, so can be the lives of many orphans in Rwanda," explains Emmanuel.

Shane believes that the founding artists are a source of inspiration, "The founders, Innocent and Emmanuel are extra ordinary artists with extraordinary vision and I believe the reason why am here supporting them is because they support the community so much," he adds

Their flagship programs include Nziza Artworks, Art with a mission and Inema Dance. These programmes create opportunities for creative young Rwandan's to learn, make and develop livelihoods in the creative arts.

Art with a mission, a charity based project that empowers youth with skills in different forms of arts, is now active in orphanage centers such as Mpore/pefa, SOS and among children living in child headed homes.

The Centre teaches traditional dance to children who perform at popular public places like Restaurants and private weddings. The donation received helps to pay their school fees.

"The initiative to impart art knowledge to underprivileged members of our society is laudable and it's something that other art Centres in Rwanda should emulate," says Flora Umutesi, a guest at the exhibition.

Jacob Ribara, a German visitor, had an encounter with traditional dancers at Heaven Restaurant. "I was very impressed with the children's performance and was told that they had came from this Centre. I come to visit and acquire some art works to take home," he says.

"I am grateful to Inema arts Centre for conducting this event. It's a great opportunity for us to have good time and celebrate an important cultural event in another culture" explains Peris Mbabazi, another visitor.

Who can join the Centre?

"To be part of the art Centre, the artist needs to have a unique artistic style that contributes to the cultural fabric of the country. You need to have a unique voice in your piece. In addition, the goals and values has to be in sync because we are not only just about selling art, it's about trying to empower people within Rwanda. That's why the art Centre supports a number of non-profit programmes," explains Bartlett.

The Centre's vision is to be the hub of creativity within the community. "We want to increase the number of programmes and events in the Centre because we believe that, without human interaction and creativity, the magic of a place dies," he adds.

The Centre is set to become a beacon in Rwanda for cultivating creative expression.

There are new pieces of art on the walls every week and doors are open everyday from 10 am to 6pm.

celebrates America's cultural holiday through exhibition

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