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Upcoming artistes could soon record their music free of charge

 Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna [David Njaaga, Standard]

Underprivileged upcoming artistes could soon record their music free of charge, following the planned construction of a public recording studio and an arts centre in Nairobi.

The centre, a programme initiated by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, aims to recruit unsigned talents, many of whom face difficulties breaking out, owing to financial constraints.

On Wednesday, the lawmaker signed a partnership with the Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) that will support the construction of the centre.

"We are currently in the progress of identifying a site, preferably within Eastlands, which is regarded as the crucible of artistic expression," Sifuna said of a project he promised during the campaigns.

"Under the memorandum of understanding, KBL will fund the project. It will be managed by a board to be established jointly by my office and KBL," he added.

During the campaigns, the Orange Democratic Movement secretary-general said he had received concerns from many artistes across the country who could not afford the recording fees, the cheapest of which charged in the region of Sh5,000.

Sifuna described the studio and arts centre as a "Pumwani" for the artistes, likening it to the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, saying it would be a place where talents would be birthed and nurtured.

"Once you have made it as an artiste, we will charge you some little amount as a way of giving back to those who come after you," he said in a radio interview last year.

Felix Juma, an upcoming artiste from Komarock who goes by the stage name Toyoyo, hailed the programme as one that would help many like him, who struggle financially.

Many Kenyan youth rely on the creative industry to make a living, marketing their talents on digital platforms.

"A lot of us have challenges accessing the studio because we cannot afford the charges. If such a studio can be set up, it will help us. It will help me," said Toyoyo.

While lauding the initiative, comedian Eric Omondi challenged the senator to ensure that the studio would be easily accessible to the public without restrictions.

"Measures should be in place to ensure that artistes are not denied entry. On many instances, politicians promise a lot and don't deliver. When they do, they go back on their word to offer free services and the masses instead encounter security officers at the gates demanding for pay," said Omondi.

The public studio mirrors an initiative by former Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia that also allowed Nyandarua's artistes to record music free of charge.

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