STAKEHOLDERS in the local arts sector have pleaded with government to set up a command arts and culture fund to enable the sector to catch up with the rest of world.
Speaking during an arts seminar organised by Africa Innovation Trust in partnership with JIVE Zimbabwe in Harare last week, players in the arts industry bemoaned government’s failure to facilitate growth of the sector.
Veteran actor and filmmaker Stephen Chigorimbo said government support was the missing key link to unlock the potential of the arts industry.
“A command arts and culture fund is the missing link in the Zimbabwe’s creative sector, otherwise we would have been well ahead of everyone in Africa. The government needs to be serious with the sector just like what they are doing in other sectors like agriculture and mining,” he said.
“We need to have the seed money for the arts, if we get it, the arts and culture sector will create all the jobs they (government) are talking about because this is also an industry that need to be financially supported as a business that must be taken seriously.”
Savanna Trust and theatre director Daniel Maphosa said local artistes were innovative in their respective genres, but government was letting them down by allowing them to mortgage the sector to foreign countries.
“As artistes we must not be mortgaging our arts and culture sector to foreign countries, but because of lack of funding from the government, we are found promoting the culture of other countries as their donors get involved in the funding of some projects which they then control the content,” he said.
“It is important that government engages all arts stakeholders to reflect and define what they wish to see happening in the arts. There is need for government to create a conductive environment for the thriving of the arts industry, ensuring there is funding of the arts and making sure arts are accessible to all, and mainstream the arts and culture in all development projects.”
The artists also castigated the arts and culture policy, claiming it should have been widely debated to address some grey areas from the previous policy crafted in 2007 if the sector was to improve and realise its full potential.
They also raised concerns over the functions of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and were in agreement that the body must improve its operations as it was failing to play its promotion role and appeared more focused on being a regulatory body.
The artists accused NACZ, that is now under the leadership of Nicholas Moyo after the former director, ElvIs Mari resigned this year, of merely milking artistes through collecting huge sums of fees from them and failing to contribute towards the sector’s improvement and growth.
The seminar co-ordinator and Jive Zimbabwe executive director, Benjamin Nyandoro, told NewsDay Life & Style that such platforms must continuously be created for critical thinking and visioning of the arts and culture sector.
“Response to the Cabinet Watch, The Minister Zimbabwe Needs initiative was overwhelming. It confirms the need. Going forward, we are working on a consolidated paper that covers the deliberations. This is a broad platform for sincere arts and culture stakeholders who desire to see a growth and development of the industry,” he said.
The seminar’s discussions were centred on issues such as laws governing the arts sector, governing institutions, emerging issues in the sector and gaps that needed to be plugged as well as challenges in the arts and culture industry.
ARTICLE BY WINSTONE ANTONIO (NEWSDAY)