We need more content for children, young people
AS you read this some of us are probably still sleeping and resting after a week of running and enjoying some amazing performances at the just-ended 14th edition of Intwasa Arts Festival. Again and under very difficult economic conditions the festival was able to curate over two dozen events! There were times, in the past, when Intwasa had nearly 50 events in five days. Yet this lean version was still bigger than most festivals and still made Intwasa the second biggest festival in the country, especially in terms of curated events.
Under the theme “Realities and experiences”, which in simple terms was more about reflections of our lives, past and present through any art discipline, we saw some daring and thought-provoking plays. The controversial and political content showcased at the festival has been covered extensively in both mainstream and social media. Political content only highlighted the need for more political spaces and more political engagement by the leadership. However, it is the content that was of little interest to most journalists that I want to focus on this week.
Two events happened during the festival and left us thinking hard. The festival had a schools theatre show that featured Gifford High, Nketa High, King George V1 and Chipawo. All great performances by any standard. These were performances designed for young people, students to be exact. Chipawo presented their interesting play called The Key. A typical play for young audiences which Chipawo is well-known for. It was just unfortunate there were very few children who were there to watch it. A day later Victory Siyanqoba Trust was on stage with Rachel 19 — the musical. This was another interesting piece that resonated well with young children as it was a collage of music, dance, agit prop and forum theatre. And the young audiences that came really enjoyed it. This had us thinking that perhaps the festival needs to have at least three performances or events targeting children and young people. Not competitions but something that would appeal to these young people and make them feel they are part and parcel of the festival.
The festival needs a few events targeting children. Here we are talking about right and appropriate content. Events that would then be properly marketed in schools and to parents. Only this way can we get to nurture proper arts appreciation from a tender age.
The current reality is that those young people and children coming with parents to most festival shows end up consuming content that is not suitable for them.
The festival needs to start working towards being family friendly and sensitive to children. Unfortunately, it’s not just the festival that lacks children’s programming.
There are very few children’s programmes and artistic activities in our communities. There are very few interesting children’s programmes on television.
In the end, and like at the festival, children end up being left to watch content that is not suitable for them and getting corrupted in the process.
Children need their own space. Children need their own content. Children must be encouraged to participate during the festival. No negotiations there. Bulawayo needs artistes with a passion for children who will dedicate their time to making content for children.
In other news Centre For Talent Development’s Live Literature Festival starts this Monday. This is also a one-week festival focusing on the dramatisation of Literature texts for O and A-levels. The festival is expecting audiences from as far Beitbridge, Kwekwe, Victoria Falls, and Tsholotsho.