From Chitungwiza with love:
Growing calls for overhaul of Arts Council Time to introduce an Arts Fund Arts sector feels neglected
THE arrival of President Mnangagwa’s refreshing Cabinet has given the arts industry some impetus, which has seen arts practitioners calling for an overhaul of the sector and all of its governing systems.
They say this will breathe new life into the arts industry and pave way for a new way of doing business in the Second Republic.
Speaking at a Press conference in the capital last week, arts stakeholders said they sought to map out an engagement framework with the new Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable Kirsty Coventry.
The practitioners said it was high time the arts sector stopped playing second fiddle to sport or any other portfolio that it is paired with.
They also called for measures to address past administrative shortcomings, arguing that the arts and culture sector hardly receives any meaningful support or attention from the ministry.
“We are here to present this document that articulates our position as the arts industry to the minister. To say here are the key requisites that need to be taken care of to ensure that we are well positioned as the arts in the ministry,” said Benjamin Nyandoro, one of the key players in the conceptualisation of a new strategy for the growth of the arts industry.
Five panelists, among them veteran actor and filmmaker Stephen Chigorimbo; Nyandoro, an arts administrator and director of Jive Zimbabwe; Prof Fred Zindi, an academic, newspaper columnist, artiste and arts enthusiast; Edith WeUtonga, who is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Musicians Union (ZIMU) and lawyer Gwinyai Mharapara presented the report and fielded questions from the media.
The report emanated from a brainstorming session held in Harare on August 10, 2018, in which several arts practitioners participated. Among them were Taurai Mafundikwa (Development Studies), Gwinyai Mharapara, Josh Nyapimbi of Nhimbe Trust and Daniel Maphosa of Savanna Trust, among others.
Dubbed “Report on Arts and Culture promotion in Zimbabwe”, it was launched last week with the intention to clarify the importance of the role of arts and recreation.
Arts practitioners are calling on the minister to establish a fund for the arts. The report also highlights the need to retrain or introduce youthful ministry personnel to align themselves with the new vision of equal treatment, for the personnel to understand the various facets of the arts and their business value and contribution to the nation’s GDP.
It calls for the need to address concerns on the function of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), which it claims does not have a structured statutory fund for arts promotion as it merely registers and regulates arts organisations.
Furthermore, it was highlighted that under the Broadcasting Services Act, a fund was established to provide grants to encourage growth in the creative arts industry.
“The Broadcasting Services Act, provides for a Broadcasting Fund, which is administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. It’s a statutory fund that is pooled from licences. Tourism Act provides for a Tourism Fund, which is administered by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. It’s a statutory fund that is pooled from Tourism Levies.
“The same must be established for arts and culture promotion in Zimbabwe, a clearly defined fund that is anchored by a statutory instrument. The fund will be administered by the NACZ, which we want overhauled as there seems to be a dearth of initiative and lack of capacity.”
The arts stakeholders said the fund must be drawn from industry as a tax incentive, and also from the Broadcasting and Tourism Fund. For instance, South Africa, through the Department of Trade and Industry, sponsors upcoming black filmmakers and even foreign films, provided they meet certain criteria to qualify for the funding. The same can be done for the arts industry here.
The arts stakeholders said Zimbabwe needs to invest in arts and culture as part of its broader strategy on image, attitude and character rebuilding, which are key enablers for investor confidence.
“Within this framework, implementation of existing legislative provisions are to be effected to protect artistic work and lobby for stiffer penalties for offenders. We note with deep concern that arts and culture is moved around ministries, thus affecting continuity and growth.
“Since 1980, the arts portfolio has been moved from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture; Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture; Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture and Heritage; Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Culture and Rural Resettlement,” read the report.
Edith WeUtonga, representing musicians, expressed optimism.
“We welcome the appointment of Honourable Minister Kirsty Coventry. She is youthful and has practical experience in the ministry she has been appointed to. We hope she embraces us as arts practitioners the same way she embraces sport,” said WeUtonga.
Honourable Minister Kirsty Coventry is faced with a mammoth task of balancing various portfolios of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. Arts stakeholders are currently engaged in efforts to have a face-to-face with the minister and present their grievances and proposals.