Breathing room for art

FirstRand Namibia supports the arts

08 February 2021 | Art and Entertainment

“Art is something that makes you breathe a different kind of happiness,” says FirstRand Namibia’s chief executive, Conrad Dempsey.
He made this statement at the unveiling of Mother, a work of art created by local artist Kapena Joe, at the FNB Head Office in the capital.
According to Dempsey, the decision to further support the arts, emanates from the value that the creative economy adds to the lives of the Namibian people. "This approach to provide support to the creative economy, is an extension of the bank’s existing and continued support to the industry as a whole.
“The FirstRand Namibia Foundation has been instrumental in supporting platforms such as RMB Song Night as well as to assist the local orchestra and the National Art Gallery of Namibia,” Dempsey said. “We decided to take it a step further and buy a local piece or two of art per year. This will not only support artists, but also create a stage for them. This is the first step on a long journey that we hope to walk with Namibian artists.”

Man on a mission
Joe, who also attended the unveiling ceremony last week, shared what trials and tribulations he has had to withstand to chase and pursue his dream of becoming a visual artist.
The former rugby player and son of Opuwo admits that “going into the arts was not easy”. What was particularly challenging, was explaining to his family that he was giving up a potentially lucrative rugby career in neighbouring South Africa, he says. "Also, one has to deal with naysayers all the time. They say you cannot make a career out of this. But narratives shouldn’t be normative.”
However, Joe says he plans to change that narrative. “I want a child to look their parents in the eyes and say: ‘Dad, there is a future in visual arts.’”
Reflecting on Mother, he says there is no life without a mother. “And FNB is the best place for it, because of how the bank empowers humanity.” Support from them and others is crucial, he says. “Sometimes all you need is that one person to tell you to go for that thing that you are afraid to go after.”

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