The cultural exchange value chain

HARARE - A few months ago I wrote about how Zimbabwean institutions and organisations can arrange cultural exchange programmes and activities.

This week my focus is on embassies/foreign organisations that are involved in organising various cultural exchange programmes.

At the outset, I should make it clear that not all arts and culture public events involving foreign artists are cultural exchange activities.

There are two possible scenarios under which a foreign organisation accredited in Zimbabwe can initiate a cultural exchange programme.

Either the organisation or embassy has formal cultural exchange agreement with the Zimbabwe government or it may not.

Where there is a formal cultural exchange agreement, the organisation or embassy is required to get formal permission within the framework of the agreement to hold the event they wish to organise.

While the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) has to clear the artists and the event, cultural exchange agreements are usually entered into with the ministry responsible for arts and culture. 

The Foreign Affairs ministry also has a role to play due to the fact that the event involves a foreign accredited entity.

Without the necessary papers from the two ministries, NACZ will be unable to help the processing of the necessary clearance for such a public performance or exhibition.

It is important to emphasise that the above is critical because when an event is declared a cultural exchange by the Zimbabwe government; the foreign artists are usually exempted from being charged fees for Temporary Employment Permit (Tep), Income tax as well as NACZ clearance fees and the other requirements consistent with cultural exchange agreements provision.

For the above to be availed to the foreign artists and the event organisers, enough lead time and documents from the relevant government agencies should be availed to NACZ.

In the absence of the appropriate documents, the event is either classified as an ordinary event attracting the normal charges and processes. 

In the case of those organisations and embassies without cultural agreements with the Government of Zimbabwe, they should work with organisations registered with NACZ.

In other words, the registered organisation is the one that applies for the clearance of the arts and culture event as well as the foreign artists.

In all cases, the application should include artists’ contracts indicating amount and source of payment, the names and details of Zimbabwean artists included in the event.

NACZ regulations require that foreign artists performing and exhibiting in Zimbabwe should partner local artists.

The inclusion of Zimbabwean artistes in every public event involving foreign artists is obviously to ensure the sharing of both resources and skills from the event. Artists coming to perform at private events, celebrations of national days and events for organisations and embassies duly accredited to Zimbabwe are not covered under these regulations.

These regulations are put in place in order to ensure the safety of the foreign artists whom Zimbabwe would be hosting.

NACZ does not clear a show without getting assurance of a Zimbabwean organisation or department that takes responsibility of the foreign artists.

As we all know that should a foreign artists get harmed in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean government will take the blame. Prevention is better that cure.

In addition, it is the wish of NACZ to ensure that all performance shows and exhibitions are well-attended and all the necessary safety measures are put in place to protect the artists and the audience.

Registered promoters and arts associations in Zimbabwe have the capacity and standard for doing public events and should these err, NACZ has mechanism for redress.

NACZ is keen to cultivate mutually beneficial cultural relationship with all nations and would be very happy to work with embassies and foreign organisation to achieve this.

Our guiding principle is always getting a win-win outcome in all our engagements in this area.

The last groups are those arts and culture institutions that have established centres in Zimbabwe.

These are allowed to bring foreign artists at their institution without necessarily following the above processes.

However, should they require to hold events outside their institutions, they are required to follow all the necessary legal processes.

As always when in doubt or before a foreign organisation brings foreign artists or organise public arts and culture events in Zimbabwe, they should get in touch with NACZ to get to know the correct procedures to follow.

*Mari is the Director of National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and views and comments can be emailed on elvasmari50@gmail.com.

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