From Chi­tung­wiza with love:

Grow­ing calls for over­haul of Arts Coun­cil Time to in­tro­duce an Arts Fund Arts sec­tor feels ne­glected

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Mtan­dazo Dube and Zandile Zaza Ndlovu

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.

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