Return of live performances

Monday November 16 2020

A staging of 'The Closing Argument,' which premiered at Maison Beaulier in Kacyiru, PHOTO | Andrew I. Kazibwe


Rwanda’s events scene is slowly making a return after about six months of Covid-19 restrictions.

Even then, the anti-Covid-19 guidelines mean that it will be a while before concerts, festivals, bars, club nights, and related live events return fully.

The few events being staged are forced to stick to the guidelines resulting in few attendants and even shorter hours.

Art spaces are leading in numbers as they have since last month opened doors while staging of live bands, which had become the norm with hotels, restaurants and bars, is trickling in. 

For example, the Nep Queens, a girls band, performed twice last month at Grazia Apartments in Kimihurura, then recently at Ubumwe Grand Hotel in the city centre.

In these performances, the numbers are not much to write home about, seeing as anti-Covid-19 measures such as social distancing have to be followed.


Hotel Des Mille Colline, too, resumed and holds weekly live band performances for the few guests who it hosts mainly at the outdoor bar area. The performances runs till 8.30pm in a bid to meet the curfew.

Away from Kigali, not much is happening. Red Rocks, a cultural centre in Musanze district, does hold weekly but much muted events.

"Our workshops, which incorporate artists and an audience of ten to fifteen, are more of an exchange programme," explains Greg Bakunzi, the centre's founder.

For this year’s edition of Hamwe festival, which is organised by the University of Global Health Equity to address mental, the chief organizer Injonge Karangwa said they will draw lessons from what is happening around the society.

"We are revising our approach to ensure the event is digital with a compelling musical performance away from the public," she said.

According to Judo Kanobana a cultural entrepreneur, and founder of events firm Positive Production, the opening up of spaces to get the tourism and leisure sector back on its feet will benefit the artists too.

However, the issue of cost has everyone scratching their head.
Remmygious Lubega, an administrator at event firm RG Consult, says it is not enough to perform if the venue is not paid for.

"If the venues are restricted on the number of people to host, then this poses a challenge to the facilitation of any live event," he says.

The few venues hosting these live sessions are mostly hotels, which can take only 30 percent of the available space.

Kanobana counsels embracing the new normal, but tactically. "The future of events could get more complicated if people don’t adapt to the present," he explains.

But all is not lost, says Kanobana, adding that now the focus is shifting from just numbers and earnings to the content and delivery.

"The quality of content, delivery and its impact is what we should focus on," he states.

"Let's make sure that we deliver the best to the few people we can access," he adds.

Event organisers stay unsure of the future, says Mr Lubega, but their hope lies on the Rwanda Convention Bureau, which oversees the organisation of conferences.