By Zandile Zaza Ndlovu

Zimbabwe Arts practitioners have made an urgent call for the establishment of a comprehensive arts policy that will guide operations within the sector.

A dearth of arts policies that speak to artistes, lack of knowledge on various art forms by local consumers and challenges on building and harnessing audiences locally and internationally are some of the issues plaguing the Zimbabwean arts sector.

Arts governing body National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is also accused of having lost touch and using archaic systems in managing the sector. At the recently held Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) – festival directors, administrators and producers from Zimbabwe and across the globe, gathered under the banner of Arts and Culture Practitioners Get Together to discuss successes and challenges faced by Zimbabwean artistes.

“Through arts and culture, you have one of the most significant ways to communicate a message about a people and a country as well as attract investment to a nation,” said Maria Wilson, executive director of Hifa.

“As arts directors, we need to champion the drafting of the arts policy and present it to the relevant minister,” said Daniel Maphosa from Savanna Trust.

Over the years, the arts sector has been treated as an orphaned child that has been tossed around to share a home with either the Sport and Recreational activities, Rural Development or Home Affairs. “For arts audiences to grow, there is a need to have a synchronised arts education programme in schools, from ECD to tertiary education levels,” said Austin Moyo an arts entrepreneurship expert.

Fine arts and classical music, etcetera, remain marginalised because they are not adequately promoted locally. As a result, some Zimbabwean musicians have found fame and worth from international audiences. Bands such as Mokoomba, Black Umfolosi, Iyasa and Insingizi have won international awards and played at some of the biggest world festivals such as Glastonbury alongside the likes of Beyonce, yet they remain uncelebrated back home.

Only a few festivals such as Hifa, Miombo and the Victoria Falls Carnival are able to offer local artistes a springboard to developing local audiences in a central venue while attaining international success. “I look forward to Hifa as I always get audiences from various backgrounds and I get maximum local exposure, something I only experience when I am in Europe,” said Hope Masike.

Zandile Zaza Ndlovu is an arts and lifestyle journalist as well as a Media PR Specialist at BrandZa Communications. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram on @zazaliciousone or email

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