HARARE - Jacqueline Rufaro Marufu, who was among 133 delegates from 14 southern African countries that participated in the Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) programme in South Africa last year, has come up with an organisation which promotes artists.
Named Ushe Arts, the Harare-based organisation seeks to link artists with markets outside Zimbabwe.
“Our organisation scouts and promotes artists from different areas of Zimbabwe, particularly those who specialise in art from recycled waste material, stone and wooden sculptures and traditional applique,” said Marufu.
She added that her organisation was determined to play a key role to help artists to respond to low local demand for their work.
“The local demand for art has drastically decreased over the past years and that is why we have many artists selling their work by the road side for extremely low prices compared to the quality and true value of the art.
“That is where my organisation comes in by linking the artists with the international market — galleries, art collectors and international exhibitions and festivals,” said the Ushe Arts director.
Marufu, who studied business management and economics in the United Kingdom, believes local art is not well-represented in key galleries across the world.
“I have attended many cultural and art festivals and I have visited many art galleries in many countries. During this exposure to so many cultural exchange platforms, I realised that the African/Zimbabwean culture or art wasn’t as well represented as it should be,” she said.
To create more opportunities for the artists, Marufu said her organisation has forged partnerships with like-minded entities in several countries.
“We have volunteers that help with the scouting and screening. They also help with communications with our partner galleries in the United Kingdom Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Gambia,” she said, adding that her organisation was currently creating a venue where artists can receive training.
“It is a central place where workshops and training will take place. The centre will also host exchange programmes with artists from Botswana and hopefully more countries in the future.
“It will cater for everyone from different backgrounds including art students and artists living with disabilities. Currently, we are working with a local organisation called AfriAct to scout, nurture and promote deaf artists,” said Marufu.