• July 5th, 2020

After 30 years, The Warehouse Theatre shuts its doors

 Paheja Siririka

WINDHOEK- An emotional roller-coaster night in the Central Business District (CBD) was noticeable this week. Imagine walking into a place that was once a solitude to many Namibians and non-Namibians, either to come and showcase their artistic abilities in a form of acting, singing, rapping, karaoke, jewellery showcasing or simply meeting a friend, sibling, cousin or colleague for a taco or a drink after a long and exhausting day at work or classes.

After impacting and largely contributing to the art industry in the country for three decades, The Warehouse Theatre has officially closed its doors for business, for good. With crowdfunding events they have hosted to keep the place running, Owner of The Warehouse Theatre Mike Ott said the crowdfunding didn’t help much.

“The Warehouse Theatre has always struggled financially, from the offset. We are not just a bar or a club, we are here and I saw it as my mandate to strengthen and conserve the arts and culture in this country. Inherently with that, you do not make money and I don’t think there is any theatre around the world that is funded by the city or the government or some patron or big corporation. We were always and completely independent on our own,” said Ott.

Entertainment Now! enquired from Ott on what plans are in place for the employees. “Initially we had 30 employees but some found employment elsewhere and others found their grounds at other establishments. We are however trying to find space for them at other events companies but it’s tough at the moment,” said Ott.

He thought in the high side, their business model was not the best to start with. “It worked well in the beginning about seven years ago when the bar financed the theatre as well but since we headed for a recession, our turnover was nowhere near where it was let’s say five years ago, ” stated Ott.

The crowdfunding didn’t work out as they anticipated and that included other shows that they initiated such as shows for tourists, a cultural show, introducing Namibian cultural to the tourists but unfortunately, that didn’t take off well.

The main purpose of hosting these shows was to generate revenue for the daily operations of the theatre as the running costs were high. “The audience numbers were dwindling and that was our biggest concern and as of right now there is no other option but to close down,” confessed Ott.

He said maintaining such a place depends on how many shows one hosts there. “It also depends on how many people are coming to the shows but the figures in taking care of such a place is in the hundred thousand,” revealed Ott.

What Ott will forever take with him about The Warehouse Theatre is the instant feeling of gratification and hominess of it. “When someone walks on stage and you see people losing the masks, losing all the worries and troubles, losing almost their personality and the true being comes out on stage that is what I am taking with. I am also taking along with all the connections I made here over the years. People coming together, not worrying what religion you are, sexual orientation, all of that doesn’t matter at the Warehouse Theatre,” explained Ott.

The Warehouse Theatre management was renting the whole space which includes The Boiler Room and The Loft from Broll, an Olthaver and List (O&L) Property Management Subsidiary.

Staff Reporter
2019-10-11 09:20:01 | 8 months ago

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