Artistes must accept clean recognition only

HARARE - Last year saw many artistes getting various types of honours.

Well-known awards include the discontinued Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima), the Zimbabwe Book Publisher Association (ZBPA) awards that were usually presented during the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and the Zimbabwe Theatre Association (Zita) awards.

There are also film awards organised courtesy of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (Ziff) and the International Images Film Festival (IIFF).

Though there are several other less-publicised awards, the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) have generated quite a following among artistes since their inauguration in 2002.

Last year many artistes, especially musicians, were given ambassadorial titles by organisations that wanted to take advantage of their popularity to drive their messages.

This was a welcome development that reflects the importance of the arts in the development of communities.
Some of the artistes who have been accorded ambassadorial status include Oliver Mtukudzi, Albert Nyathi, Suluman Chimbetu, Baba and Amai Charamba, Alick Macheso among many others.

We applaud the companies and organisations for recognising Zimbabwean artistes.

Such recognition creates a win-win outcome for both the artistes and the organisation if done with sincerity and honesty.

While we are grateful for the honours being bestowed on artistes, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) would like to advise artistes to seek advice before accepting such honours.

In fact, if the artistes don’t belong to an association, the Nacz is available to provide the much- needed advice to both parties to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.

Some recognised artistes have complained about being short-changed.

This can be avoided if such an arrangement has the input of a third party like the Nacz or National Gallery of Zimbabwe at inception stage.

We have also, regrettably, witnessed some people offering a lot of money to buy albums or books during auctions or album and book launches and afterwards fail to honour their pledges.

Sometimes the culprits are the masters of ceremonies at the launches who manipulate the process as a publicity stunt.

Some invited high profile politicians and businessmen may also impulsively pledge amounts or items beyond their means.

If the organisers want the politicians or businesspersons to donate something, then it becomes professional to inform them in advance.

Another recognition that also happened in 2013 was that of artistes being given cars and other material items for their work.

Artistes must take due caution before accepting such gifts and awards.

A check with the Nacz or National Gallery of Zimbabwe on the profile of the donating company or individual before accepting will protect the image of the artiste.

While the Nacz encourages the honouring of artistes, we want it to be done in a manner that does not soil the creative industry.

The sum total of recognition given to the different artistes by communities determines how the society values the work of the creative industries.

Let all the artistes jealously protect the image of the sector by accepting only clean recognition.
      
*Mari is the director of National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and feedback and comments can be sent to elvasmari50@gmail.com

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