Arts education will unearth talent

HARARE - Unless local publishers and the line ministries responsible for arts and culture seriously consider investing in arts education, the idea of including it in the education curriculum would be a mammoth task, a celebrated author has said.

Writer Virginia Phiri said the aforementioned — publishers and arts, culture ministries — are key to start the ball rolling in as far as preparing appropriate teaching material for a variety of arts disciplines.

“It is long overdue that appropriate teaching material is written, hence the need for government to commission arts practitioners to start work on such.

“As we all now know the arts play a major role in world economies and there are countries that are racking fortunes from arts. Zimbabwe is no exception but what we need is sound investment in promoting arts education.”

She said long back creative writing was taken seriously at primary school by way of compositions.

“We learnt it the hard way and had to put up with reading music from notes as well as sing. It was not only singing but also playing musical

instruments of both Western and African. There were guitars, flutes, clarinets and marimba.

“Look what has happened to marimba now, it has gone the world over. The rural drum also played a major role,” said Phiri.

Renowned music producer Bothwell Nyamhondera said the introduction of arts in the education curriculum from an early age will be a good start as it was long overdue.

“The arts industry is one of the biggest sectors in the world but surprisingly we still hadn’t realised that in this country, unfortunately until now,” said the respected music producer who has produced most prominent musicians from Thomas Mapfumo, Four Brothers, the late Leonard Dembo, Tongai Moyo and System Tazvida among a host of others.

“Of course there aren’t enough books and material for students but we have to start from somewhere and as we progress we will find our footing.

“There’s so much untapped talent in Zimbabwe and the introduction of arts education in schools will be a very great opportunity to discover all the hidden talent out there.”

Arts education to children and youths in Zimbabwe has primarily been provided by arts like-minded organisations like Children’s Performing Arts Workshop (Chipawo-Zimbabwe), Dance Trust of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe College of Music, Intwasa, Masvingo Youth Festival (Yocaf) and the National Gallery’s Visual School of Art among others.

Chipawo is an arts education for development and employment organisation based in Harare that works with children and young people in different parts of Zimbabwe.

Children from age four and youth up to age 25 learn to sing, dance, play music, act, make videos and television programmes and work together, communicate, gain confidence, build through criticism and so much more — in short, arts education for development and employment.

Through the arts, Chipawo is able to address the key issues that concern the welfare and development of children.

Hundreds of children are tapping in their newly-discovered talent in dancing through the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe.

More than 750 children, many of them disabled, have been beneficiaries of an outreach project which provides dance training access to young people from high-density suburbs.

The trust also runs the Dance Foundation Course, an intensive three-year contemporary dance training course based on a full-time and broad curriculum.

Young men and women (15 people) with a keen interest in dance and performing arts take part and gear up to develop a professional career in contemporary dance.

Masvingo Youth Cultural Arts Festival (Yocaf) is a festival for schools specialising in high school theatre performances and arts education.

Schools from all over the country participate in the annual event and some that have taken part in past events include; Pamushana High School, Thornhill High School, Masvingo Christian College, Churchill Boys High school, Mapanzure High School, Serima High School, Dadaya High School, Regina Mundi Girls High School, St Peters Kubatana High School, Glen View 1 High School, Victoria High School, Gifford boys High School and Eveline Girls High School.

In western Matabeleland region young boys and girls are mounting inspiring art exhibitions showcasing their hitherto hidden drawing prowess, thanks to Colours-in-Motion, an organisation involved in art drawing and community newspaper publishing initiatives in marginalised rural communities which is mainly targeted to children and their parents.

At the National Art Gallery in Harare, young artists are trained at the Visual Arts School, formerly known as BAT Workshop.

Each year 20 students are trained in sculpture, painting and graphics.

Magamba Trust promotes urban youths’ arts education and free expression through different platforms.

For many youths, free artistic expression is a necessity, yet in many instances the country’s young people are silenced by lack of spaces to express themselves and, in some cases, state repression.

This has been achieved through community-based programmes using poetry, comedy and music.

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