Int­wasa tries to bloom as donor fa­tigue sets in

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

OR­GAN­IS­ERS of the Int­wasa Arts Fes­ti­val koBu­l­awayo have had to make-do with the lit­tle that they have to make sure that the city’s big­gest arts ex­trav­a­ganza takes place, with in­di­ca­tions that donors that have pulled out from spon­sor­ing the arts over the last few years are un­likely to make a hasty re­turn.

The last few years have been lean for the coun­try’s arts fes­ti­vals with donors, the fi­nan­cial pil­lar of most of the coun­try’s ma­jor arts events, seem­ingly tight­en­ing their belts.

While the coun­try’s dire eco­nomic con­di­tions have con­trib­uted to the pull back by donors, donor fa­tigue has also been cited as the rea­son for the sud­den aus­ter­ity from or­gan­i­sa­tions that were cash cows in the past.

The hard­est hit has per­haps been the coun­try’s ma­jor arts fes­ti­vals,

Int­wasa and Hifa, with the founder of the lat­ter

Manue l B a g g o r o

high­light­ing the quandary that they faced.

“Many non­profi arts pre­sen­ters strug­gle in dif­fer­ent ways, whether they are in Zim­babwe or else­where. As you rightly say, re­ly­ing on a sin­gle or small group of donors is prob­lem­atic, as many or­gan­i­sa­tions in Zim­babwe, in­clud­ing Hifa, have felt with the with­drawal of ma­jor arts/ cul­ture donor agen­cies and em­bassies over the last few years,” he told our sis­ter pa­per the Sun­day Mail.

Int­wasa, the fes­ti­val that her­alds spring in the City of Kings, now has to bloom de­spite the fi­nan­cial prob­lems that be­devil all pre­vi­ously donor-re­liant arts events in the coun­try.

This year’s fes­ti­val, which takes place be­tween 25 and 29 Septem­ber, is hap­pen­ing un­der the shadow of the chang­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the donor com­mu­nity and the arts.

“The donors have been say­ing that we’ve been putting re­sources into the same things for years and years and we’re not see­ing re­sults. Or­gan­i­sa­tions like Hivos have scaled back and you look at an in­sti­tu­tion like Cul­ture Fund which used to be a big or­gan­i­sa­tion but now also needs help in fi­nanc­ing its pro­grammes,” said Raise­don Baya, the fes­ti­val di­rec­tor who has stood the taste of time in the in­dus­try and is among the he­roes of the arts sec­tor, though largely un­cel­e­brated.

Baya, born and bred in Bu­l­awayo, is a fam­ily man, a news­pa­per colum­nist, an award win­ning play­wright and di­rec­tor whose works have toured in­ter­na­tion­ally with Amakhosi Theatre, Rooftops Pro­mo­tions, and Siyaya Arts. Some of his pop­u­lar works in­clude Wit­nesses and Vic­tims, Rags and Garbage, Mad­men and Fools and the banned Su­per Pa­tri­ots and Morons and The Croc­o­dile of Zam­bezi. For The Croc­o­dile of Zam­bezi he re­ceived, with Christo­pher Mlalazi, a Novib — Pen In­ter­na­tional Free­dom of Ex­pres­sion Award. His col­lec­tion of plays To­mor­row’s Peo­ple was pub­lished in 2009. He is the Di­rec­tor of the Int­wasa Arts Fes­ti­val koBu­l­awayo.

Ac­cord­ing to Baya, when they be­gan prepa­ra­tions for this year’s fes­ti­val, which will see 25 events across var­i­ous arts dis­ci­plines, they had been as­sured by donors that their plight would im­prove af­ter this coun­try’s wa­ter­shed har­monised elec­tions.

“When we started run­ning around ear­lier in the year they were say­ing that they’re wait­ing for elec­tions. How­ever, there isn’t much in­di­ca­tion of change since the elec­tions but per­haps maybe it’s too early to as­sess if there’s any change. Maybe Int­wasa came just too early af­ter the elec­tions,” he said.

Baya added that the ab­sence of donor sup­port might prove to be a bless­ing in dis­guise for artistes.

“We’re try­ing to find mod­els that go be­yond donor sup­port. One thing that you need to know about donor fund­ing is that it al­ways comes with strings at­tached. Some­times we would like to do art for art’s sake.

“You would like to bring a love story to the stage but it’s highly un­likely that you’d get donor fund­ing for it. Some­times we would love to make pro­duc­tions that have noth­ing to do with the sit­u­a­tion on the ground,” he said.

Int­wasa had ear­lier in­di­cated that they were look­ing for more

buy-in from artistes, who they ex­pected to con­trib­ute mean­ing­fully to the growth of the fes­ti­val.

This was still a work in progress, he said.

“A fes­ti­val is like the Trade Fair. We’re ba­si­cally ask­ing artistes to come and ex­hibit their craft. At the Trade Fair ex­hibitors pay to ex­hibit and not the other way round. So we’ve been try­ing to con­vince artistes of this vi­sion that we have. We would love ev­ery­one to meet and con­trib­ute on how to keep the fes­ti­val alive be­cause ideas and the buy-in of ev­ery­one is how it stays alive,” Baya said.

De­spite the many ob­sta­cles they faced on the road to this year’s fete, Baya said some lo­cal arts groups and in­di­vid­u­als have em­braced the new Int­wasa vi­sion.

Nhimbe Trust, Skyz Metro, Sa­van­nah Trust, OSISA and CITE are some who have come to the party.

“Some have heeded the call. You have peo­ple like Sa­van­nah Trust, who have trav­elled the world, yet of­fered us their cast. You have oth­ers like Umkhathi who have over the last few years have ba­si­cally also of­fered them­selves to Int­wasa.

Then you have young artistes like As­aph that have come to us and asked how they can help. They’re say­ing they have their own net­works and all they need is to be told what to do then they can go and mar­ket the event,” he said.

Raise­don Baya

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