Nurture talent in the arts

HARARE - The Manicaland Show of the Arts (Manisa) awards ceremony held at the National Art Gallery in Mutare last week should inspire other provinces to take a similar route.

Encouragingly, both the provincial awards ceremony and the associated annual exhibition attracted an impressive list of 45 senior artists and over 100 school children from throughout Manicaland.

The Manisa organisers, particularly National Art Gallery regional director for Mutare, Elizabeth Muusha, have to be lauded for encouraging the participation of schoolchildren in the fine arts sector.

According to Muusha, the bulk of the 200 art pieces that were considered for gongs came from schoolchildren. The various art pieces cover such areas as drawings, paintings, textiles, crafts, wood, stone, metal as well as mixed media sculptures.

We totally agree with Muusha’s view that Zimbabwe’s education system should go beyond mere academics.

“Each and every one of us has a talent. Some of these children may not be gifted in academics but they are exceptionally talented in the arts. They must be assisted so that they can make a living out of it. Currently we are sitting on their career option,” she said.

One of the main impediments to the growth of the arts in Zimbabwe is the limited learning of arts subjects at secondary school level.

Most primary schools are active in the arts, particularly performance arts, but as soon as the youngsters get into Form One, they are denied options to hone their talents.

Recently the Manicaland provincial education officer for arts and culture, Isaiah Mhembere, claimed that the absence of performance arts at secondary school level was the main reason behind the creation of a separate stand alone ministry of Sport, Art and Culture.

We hope that the government’s realisation that over-emphasis of academic subjects at the expense of fine arts and performance arts is counter productive, is not just mere lip service.

If the government and relevant education authorities now concede that not all children will end up as doctors or engineers, then they have no choice but to support and nurture talent in the arts as this can potentially offer some school children lucrative careers.

To make this a reality, fine arts and performance arts must not be restricted to the third term as is the case at the moment — they must be practiced throughout the academic calendar.

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