Time to take stock for Hifa organisers

HARARE - Organisers of the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) deserve to be praised for managing to bring back Zimbabwe’s biggest arts event after an 18-month break despite the difficult economic environment.

But with 2017 edition of Hifa now out of the way, the time is ripe for the organisers to take stock and devise new strategies to make the next one even better.

In spite of serious challenges that continue to threaten the viability of Hifa, we believe organisers of the festival can still come up with a better event.

Though official figures haven’t been released yet, the just-ended six-day arts event generally attracted smaller crowds compared to previous editions. We are convinced one of the reasons for the poor turnout was the failure by organisers to come up with compelling concerts that appeal to the majority.

If Hifa had included several local crowd pullers like Jah Prayzah and Soul Jah Love, many more fans could possibly have attended Zimbabwe’s biggest arts event. Every Hifa edition must try by all means to host concerts featuring the top local artistes of that particular year.

In light of this, Hifa organisers must head-hunt popular local artistes instead of waiting for them to submit applications. Considering only artistes who apply is very problematic because, over the last few years, many top local artistes have failed to apply for one reason or another.

One way of identifying local artistes that Hifa can host could be to ask members of the public to vote for their favourite acts. The uproar caused by the fact that Winky D played only three songs when he featured on music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi’s set definitely shows that there undoubtedly is a huge appetite for these kind of shows at Hifa.

The popular local artistes voted for by members of the public could be accommodated on the Zimgold Green stage or be allocated the 1pm gigs on Saturday and Sunday on the ZOL Mainstage.

The afternoon weekend shows are particularly important because they attract families. As such, these concerts must be given to proven artistes.

In 2015, the afternoon concert of the last Hifa day featured Victor Kunonga who is an established artiste. Not surprisingly, the show was a major success.

But this year, for some unknown reason, organisers opted for a rookie like ShaSha who dismally failed to connect with the crowd. Given the foregoing, handing over such a prime show to the young local songstress was misguided.

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