Nama can be bigger, better

HARARE - The popularity of the recently-held 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or Gala was beyond anyone’s imagination and as it was screened live, worldwide.

The Fifa Ballon d’Or Gala, to be held this year at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland is a glamorous awards presentation for the world’s most talented footballers.

In Zimbabwe we have the Zimbabwe National Arts Merit Awards, (Nama) which has the capacity to be as popular and spectacular as international galas.

Nama will take place next month in Bulawayo and it is set to award once again the cream within Zimbabwe’s arts sector.

The award event is the brainchild of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, (Nacz) and honours artists drawn from all disciplines on an annual basis in recognition of outstanding achievements in the arts and culture sectors.

The past Nama events have been well-attended by local artists, the best in the visual, theatre, film and television, dance, music and literary arts field.

While the Fifa Ballon d’Or Gala is broadcast all over the world, and raks in millions of dollars in television rights, there is still more that needs to be done to have the Nama screened because there are reports that our sole broadcaster had over the years resisted having it screened live on television.

And you do not have to pay to be a guest at Nama because the event is only meant for invited guests.

The organisers, Nacz usually draw up a list of their guests, so the showcase is restricted to their list.

But through television coverage, the rest of those not on the special guest list can watch and follow the event’s proceedings live.

The Nacz should persuade the ZBC to always screen the presentation as it happens so that audiences at home can follow proceedings.

Holding an event of such magnitude is not easy as it requires money and lots of it, that will go into marketing and publicity, accommodation and upkeep for the guests, design and manufacture of trophies and transport.

What Nama needs today is to find a financially strong partner, be it a corporate company or arts institution that can power the awards gala.

A financially-sound partner will add more value and worth to these prizes.

With money available from the sponsor, Nacz would be able to hold an even more spectacular ceremony and see to it that the presentation is screened live on television for everyone who loves the arts.

It is interesting to note that institutions like Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust through its main supporting partner the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has contributed cash towards the Nama, once rewarding $ 10 600 for the execution of activities.

Mighty Movies has made a difference to Nama since they came in to partner the award coordinators. Their efforts have to be applauded.

For years now the arts community has been calling for the Nama to be hosted in other cities besides Harare, a development which has seen the last instalment and this year’s being held in Bulawayo.

As a national event, Nama could be hosted anywhere — Mutare, Victoria Falls, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Gweru or any other city that has proper infrastructure to host them.

What we probably need are floated tenders for the holding of such a showcase and those who feel have the financial muscle can apply and host the event in their cities.

They can be issued with a contract and licence to coordinate the event.

And it is a fact that since the inaugural hosting of the awards in 2002 Nama has created opportunities and avenues for various artists to excel at all levels, nationally, regionally and internationally.

What Nacz needs now is to cement the foundation and trust it has built so far and incorporate other players as well. The National Arts Council should just monitor the awards presentation while other companies or institutes direct and bankroll them.

Through such collaborative partnerships, the Nama will continue to inspire artists as they reward originality and excellence in creativity.

The Nama accolade has to be valuable as this will challenge artists to further improve their respective performances in the field of arts.

The awards must be accompanied by cash prizes because cash incentives will make them even more competitive.

The Nacz must find ways of raising funds to be used to provide the cash prizes and I believe such money can be raised.

It can also easily raise cash prizes through fund-raising events with artists and we as club owners can donate venues for such a worthy cause.

Much needs to be done to popularise the Nama brand through intensive marketing, production of merchandise like T-shirts, posters and other regalia so as to maximise on publicity.

The Nama should by now have its own team of coordinators who work throughout the year and avoid situations where officials start running around late looking for sponsorship.

The organisers have to vigorously penetrate the market and hunt for sponsorship deals that have a long life span.

There is need for the coordinators to put on the table incentives for individuals or companies wanting to sponsor specific awards.

The awards can be named after the sponsor; ie: Dominic Benhura - Stone Sculptor of the Year; Tuku — Most Promising Musician, Chenjerai Hove — Writer of the Year or Coca-Cola Best Urban Groove Artist, Econet Life Time Achievement Award or even City Sports Bar Best Dancer?

If approached on time and with well-structured synergies and incentivise, all the awards would be grabbed in no time.

Nacz should not look far and they should start by working on sprucing up the ceremony’s concept and approaching relevant sponsors to incentive the award prizes.

*Chinoperekwei is a showbiz promoter.

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