YOUTH, Arts, Sport and Recreation deputy minister Yeukai Simbanegavi has admitted  that the Arts Development Fund was moribund and needed to be revamped to extend a lifeline to artists from different disciplines to bankroll their projects.

Artists, who included award-winning filmmaker Melgin Tafirenyika, actor Albert Charichafa Brown, former PPC Imaginarium award winner industrial designer Victor Nyakauru, sculptors Shelton Mubayi and Eckel Nyamhondoro, attended a seminar at Chitungwiza Arts Centre early last week, where they interfaced with Simbanegavi.

The artistes — drawn from poetry, theatre, music, fashion, dance, film and sculpture — raised concern over funding for the creative and culture industry, lack of alternative television stations to showcase their talent, failure to access local and international markets, excessive red tap in government and fraudulent promoters as well as lack of unity among themselves.

Simbanegavi, however, said funds were not readily available, but government was in the process of reviewing the Arts Development Fund to make it easier to access. “Funds to give to artists are not readily available. We are going to ensure that you access it through loans. The ministry is reviewing the Arts Development Fund and artists can access funding and grants from the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe. We need to develop proper funding facilities and the ministry is going to work on that,” she said.

“We are now in the new dispensation, so things should change for artists, especially the emerging ones. Government realises that it is critical to provide sound policies, functional infrastructure and necessary equipment for cultural and creative industries to become fully monetised. There should also be systems to report to in cases of all forms of abuse in the industry that include sexual and non-payment.” Speaking at the meeting, Zanu PF youth league secretary, Pupurai Togarepi said their involvement followed a request by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He promised that the issues raised would be promptly ironed out.

“The President requested us to go around these ministries, so we have started with the arts. I am excited that you were free to air your concerns, but I was pained that despite all your efforts to promote Zimbabwe’s image, you’re still facing challenges that can be dealt with overnight. The deputy minister is here I want her to forward this to Cabinet and we will also bring it before the politburo,” he said.

He promised to provide feedback in two weeks.

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