We need more con­tent for chil­dren, young peo­ple

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

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.

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