2016 looks bleak — Artists

HARARE - Artists from across all genres see 2016 as a difficult year financially as donors withdraw funding while government is reluctant to fund the arts sector.

Artistic director of Masvingo Youth Festival (Yocaf) Leeroy Gono said with the dwindling financial support locally, the arts sector is in trouble. “The failure by government to support the sector is not helping either. It is a real test, artists need to find a way of adapting somehow, prove their mantle.

“If you look at the theatre sector for example, new work is only produced around Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) time, the first quarter and very little afterwards.

“However, artists are resilient, we have seen our worst years, the question is for how long?”

Arts administrator and Mokoomba manager Marcus Gora thinks 2016 will be a difficult year for most people working in the arts sector.

“The reduction of outside funding and diminishing disposable incomes for patrons, venue closures and the absence of major festivals like Hifa and possibly Chimanimani Arts Festival mean doom and gloom for most artists and arts practitioners.

“The little that is available will be taken in an almost ‘winner-take-all’ fashion by already established arts organisations and artists, leaving little room for small players and for experimentation which I believe will make products and programming highly predictable and a loss for audiences who will not have the variety that makes for a vibrant arts sector.”

Intwasa Festival director Raisedon Baya sees 2016 as a tough year financially. “But there is this belief that in situations like these it is when the arts thrive. As for Intwasa Festival 2016, we are already running around, trying to put things together. Hopefully, we will be able to create great cultural experiences for arts lovers.”

Baya urged artists to work extra hard, “find more than one revenue stream. It is tough but everyone has to adapt”.

Guitarist Tomas Brickhill could only say: “I think it’s going to be another difficult year for artists.”

Female bassist Edith WeUtonga Katiji said the arts sector remains the last to be considered in national budgets and in terms of intellectual property protection.

“A country is well identified by its culture, if much could be invested in our music and film heritage then even our future generations wouldn’t have a warped image of their country.”

Katiji said the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians, which she currently chairs, will hold workshops on financial and personnel management, “as well as a financial literacy workshop with the help of Old Mutual. We are also in talks with certain entities to at least get flexible housing schemes going as well as negotiate venues to enable more spaces to showcase our works”.

The bassist said she would be producing some new music videos and material for her third album.

Poet Batsirai Chigama believes there is need for artists to work together.

“Things are tough all round but as artists we cannot afford to retire because of an unfavourable environment. ”

Filmmaker and actor Obrian Mudyiwenyama is hopeful that the year is going to bring some exciting developments because of the digitisation exercise. “A lot of products will come through and it will boost the film, music and general cultural sector.

“However, the broadcasters need to be ready in terms of funding because content is made by money.”

Mudyiwenyama added that a lot of filmmakers were not producing films for television because there was very little benefit if any at all. “However, this process offers a bit of hope in that there is a promise of real business for the arts sector and mostly the filmmakers.

“We only hope that we are on the same page with the broadcasters and that we can be allowed to be filmmakers and storytellers which is what we do.”

Rooftop Promotions publicist Robert Tapfumaneyi said from his personal point of view, 2016 can be a great year for theatre lovers as they are opening the new Theatre in the Park venue.

“After the closure of the old venue, there was no joy for theatre lovers but now that there is a central venue built inside the Harare Gardens we hope to bring back their smiles.

“The feedback from the social platforms indicates the need for a big platform where artists can interact and discuss issues that are affecting them every day. 

“So I hope that the creative industry will take such discussion into production and come up with current affairs plays where people will end up discussing the issues affecting them and to a certain extent providing solutions.”

Tapfumaneyi said ideas and dreams do not need money, hence there is no excuse this year for the arts industry which is always crying foul over finances.

Ethnomusicologist Hector Rufaro Mugani said the year has half-shadow and half-light.

“There are so many prospects and new talents ready to rise but when it comes to the stake holders there has not been due recognition of the arts in the 2016 National Budget which will dwindle the success of the sector as a whole.

“Also, there has been less funding coming through from foreign funders which makes it more difficult for arts to survive, hence it is a year that the artists should be more creative than before, in their art and the business of arts.”

Mungani is adamant that this year very brilliant art work and names are going to rise to be new faces and new trends that will foster positive social change in the country and the world.

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