Transformation at the GoDown – History in the Making

The Constitution of Kenya recognises culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation. (11:1)

Kenya’s Culture and National Heritage Policy articulates the objective to ensure the fullest possible expression of culture and heritage in all their facets including equal access for all cultures to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form. (KCNHP 1.4)

The GoDown Arts Centre has embarked on a much-needed, people-driven transformation initiative to develop the first civic-scale contemporary arts and culture complex dedicated to the creative spirit in modern Kenya.

It is anticipated that the New GoDown will be a focal point for intercultural dialogue, national cohesion and cultural expression, building on the foundation laid in the centre’s earlier work since 2003. Since inception, the GoDown has been an anchor institution in Nairobi’s urban fabric, promoting social cohesion, and serving as a central point for the development of creative and cultural practitioners in the region.

This is the first major capital investment in cultural infrastructure since the construction of the Kenya Cultural Centre and National Theatre by the British colonial government in 1952.
The GoDown transformation process has been inclusive and participatory, drawing from the perspectives shared by a wide array of stakeholders including school children; university students; city officials; urban planning professionals; neighbouring micro-businesses; residents; and artists.

The design of the modern mixed-use complex has been a collaborative journey led by two award-winning architectural firms – Planning Systems (Kenya) and White Arkitekter (Sweden)
The New GoDown will be at the heart of Kenya’s creative landscape with a capacity to receive 2000 visitors daily. The complex will deliver enriching, educative cultural resources and experiences to Kenyan youth, Kenyan families, arts organisations, creatives and visitors from the region and the African continent.

The transformed GoDown Arts Centre is a collaborative project that has seen diverse stakeholders coming together and generously giving to actualise the vision. Their generous contributions in cash and in kind have catered for the planning and design stage. We are now looking forward to breaking ground in mid-March and the commencement of excavation of the old GoDown Centre site.

We welcome you to join hands with us as we enter this next stage of development of what will be an important part of the cultural landscape in Nairobi and the East African region.
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Watch the GoDown Transforms team talk about the project, Kenyan cultural infrastructure and the creative economy on Property Focus, NTV