Makerere to Get World Class Centre for Performing Arts

The Norwegian University College of Dance has partnered with Makerere University to raise funds for the construction of a world class center for performing arts for the latter.

This was unveiled on Friday March 31, 2017, during the laying of the foundation stone for the facility, an event that was presided over by the ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy Susan Eckey.

Ambassador Eckey said Makerere and Norway have been in partnership for the last 40 years, a cooperation meant to establish a joint Bachelor of Arts degree and increase the competence of the department of performing Arts at Africa’s third-best university.

“It is great pleasure for me to lay the foundation stone for an important milestone in the journey to establishing a home for the department of performing Arts and film here at Makerere. The foundation stone we are laying today is for the centre that will enable Makerere University and Uganda to raise to the next level in training and nurturing of young people of Uganda in further appreciating the role of performing arts within the cultural context of Uganda,” Eckey said.

She added that the centre will further cement the role of Makerere as a leading institution of learning and innovation, adding Uganda is rich in its diversity of cultural heritage and talented young people, and committed professionals willing to mentor them.

The vice chancellor of Makerere Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu said the centre will not only benefit Makerere but the whole country and the region at large.

“This is a great milestone for the department [of performing Arts] which has been with infrastructural challenges since its establishment in 1971,” Ddumba said.

“World over, performing arts is a fast-growing industry contributing to the economy and because of such, investing in training facilities is crucial for sustainability and continued growth of the industry. I take this opportunity to appeal for support from all the stakeholders towards this project.”


According to the deputy vice chancellor (Finance and Administration) Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, since the establishment of the department of Arts and Film 47 years ago, its progress has been hampered by limited infrastructural resources.

Nawangwe said the department has had limited execution of its mandate as the centre of academic and practical excellence in training and offering leadership to the performing arts industry in Uganda.

“The overarching goal of the centre is to improve and strengthen the performing arts and film industry in Uganda so as to realize its socio-cultural, political and economic potential through facilitated training, research, and service delivery that measures to international standards,” Prof Nawangwe said.

The centre will occupy a space of 8000 square meters at a site located on plot 36 Flame tree, near the Makerere University Guest House.


The centre will have a 350-seater theatre, 12 acoustically-treated classrooms, two music studios, 200-seater auditorium, three dance/rehearsal rooms, 10 music practice rooms, library, audio-visual archive, office space, and a cafeteria.

Prof Nawangwe said these facilities will not only be used for offering training, but also for providing income-generating services and outreaches that will help sustain the centre and the university in general.

Nawangwe added that in addition to housing the existing academic programmes, the centre will offer specialized practical training in Music, dance, drama, film, arts management, public speaking, among others, as well as certificate and non-certificate programmes.


Construction of the centre will cost $20million, according to the Assoc. Prof Sylivia Tamusuza-Nannyonga – the head of department of performing arts and film.

“We expect to generate the money from fundraising drives in Norway and Uganda. We call upon all the alumni and well-wishers of the department and the performing arts industry in general to support this venture,” Prof Nannyonga said.

The university has already constituted the Makerere University Performing Arts and Film Centre (MAPAFIC) committee to lead the fundraising drive for this project.

They include Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, Assoc. Prof Sylivia Tamusuza-Nannyonga, Prof Edward Kirumira, Florence Nakayiwa, Dr Patrick Mangeni, Dr Venny Nakazibwe, Lilian Mbabazi; the deputy principal College of Designing Arts and Technology (Cedat) and Steven Kasamba.

Chris Tusiime