Marion van Dijck

Marion van Dijck is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sarakasi Trust. Sarakasi was founded by Marion and her husband Rudy in December 2001. The Trust became an incorporated Trust in March 2009 and gained (Kenyan) NGO status in December 2009.

Marion has been working in the arts, culture and entertainment sector since 1981 using the performing arts as a tool to instil positive change in troubled young and adult people. She followed her husband to Kenya in 1989 where he took up a position at the United Nations Offices Nairobi. The first years the couple got to know the country, started a family and learned about the rich Kenyan culture and its people. When they met an acrobatic troupe in 2000 they immediately knew that here was an opportunity to show the world through the performing arts that Africa was much more than the ‘dark continent’, as it was often perceived in the West. Here was not only the opportunity, but also the need to nurture and facilitate these arts and, this way, improve the life of the often poor and underprivileged performing artists.

Marion has seen the Trust grow from a very small project into a multi program undertaking. The management is team based while most employees have been trained on the job through practical exposures including exchanges and training opportunities. Together the Sarakasi team has successfully designed, implemented and expanded the Sarakasi Programs.

Sarakasi Trust responds to the need for the further development and promotion of culture, performing arts and entertainment in East-Africa focusing on acrobatics, dance and music. Sarakasi, established in Nairobi in 2001, strives to empower its trainees and contracted artists (most of which originate from slum areas in Nairobi) creatively and economically by giving them tools to manage their art, lives and careers more effectively and successfully.

The Trust aims to present the best of Kenyan creativity to the widest possible audience by organizing festivals and events, cultural exchanges, local and international performance contracts and tours. Sarakasi also provides social development, training and capacity building and cultural awareness programs, and in addition implements special programs such as the Talanta training (involving blind and deaf performing artists), the Hospital Project (bringing edutainment to hospitalized children and children in homes and remand homes), Artist Agency Project, and the implementation of its own cultural agenda at the ‘Sarakasi Dome’, a magnificent building that the Trust acquired and renovated to meet its office and rehearsal space needs which doubles up as a performance venue.

Sarakasi is a registered trust with NGO status. Sarakasi employs 36 staff on a full time basis, reaches over 1,000 young people on a weekly basis in its (training) outreach programs, trains about 100 people at the Dome every week and reaches thousands with its audience building projects (festivals, Dome programming). Sarakasi Trust participates in six partner networks.

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