Cash-strapped Intwasa feels the heat

BULAWAYO - Cash-strapped Intwasa Festival koBulawayo, the City of Kings’ premier annual arts event, is reeling under serious financial challenges that have forced the annual showcase to reduce to a three-day event instead of the usual five.

The multi-disciplinary Intwasa, which will run at various venues in the City of Kings from September 28 to 30, has now turned to the Bulawayo City Council for assistance.

According to the latest Bulawayo City Council minutes, Intwasa Festival koBulawayo, headed by Raisedon Baya, wrote to the local authority requesting, among other things, to be allowed to use for free either the Large City Hall or the City Hall Car Park.

Bulawayo’s leading festival also pleaded with the city council to pay for the production of publicity material for its flagship concert dubbed Bayethe Bulawayo Concert in addition to a public address system.

Part of the letter from Intwasa dated May 12 quoted in the council minutes reads:

“Support for Intwasa is support for Bulawayo residents, as many now find the festival as their only platform for cultural expression.

“Because of the current economic challenges, the 2017 edition of the festival will be three days, running from 28-30 September.”

In its response, the city council through a letter written by secretary Sikhangele Zhou agreed to allow Bulawayo’s premier arts festival to use various venues for free.

“There are no objections to council extending its support to Intwasa Arts Festival by way of offering its facilities free of charge,” wrote Zhou but was quick to point out that the local authority was not in a position offer financial support.

“Given the financial challenges that council is going through, its ability for financial support is very limited.”

The city council’s acting financial director Cyprian Dabengwa also agreed to support the event but ruled out financial assistance.

“The department is in full support of the continued partnership with Intwasa Arts Festival provided there is no cash outflow towards the festivities.

“This should only be limited to provision of facilities either free of charge or at discounted rates.”

He added: “The idea is noble and should be supported. However, due to cash flow challenges, council may be unable to assist financially. I further propose that the organisation could be charged 50 percent of the normal charge.”

In order to ensure that this year’s event goes ahead as planned, Intwasa has struck a partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority that will see the annual arts event and this year’s edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo running concurrently.

ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, confirmed the two organisations’ partnership.

“We are going to work hand-in-hand with Intwasa. I told the organisers of Intwasa that this festival can be bigger than Hifa… We want the festival to draw tourists from all over the country,” Kaseke said.

In a recent interview with the Daily News, Intwasa Arts Festival director Baya conceded that Bulawayo’s premier arts event was facing serious financial challenges.

“Intwasa like any festival has been affected. We are running around trying to make it happen, and to be honest we are not exactly sure it will happen the way we want.

“That is why we have cut the days and cut the activities. In fact, we are doing half the activities we used to do,” Baya said.

Last year Intwasa hosted 50 shows with the standout being the Spring Jazz Night featuring Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, Rute Mbangwa, Lady Tshawe, The Outfit and Donna N.

Intwasa is not the only Zimbabwean arts event facing viability problems.

Shoko Festival, which will return to the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences along Rotten Row, Harare, from September 29 to October 1, is also feeling the pinch of Zimbabwe’s worsening economic situation.

Shoko Festival coordinator Natalie Kombe told the Daily News recently that the annual event was facing financial challenges.

“Companies are struggling and supporting a festival like ours is not exactly a priority. Despite the economic challenges, we are still doing our best to put in place a competitive line-up. The first batch of artistes will be announced in July and the rest in August,” Kombe said.

Zimbabwe’s biggest arts festival-the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) — bounced back this year after postponing its 2016 edition.

In a related development, there will not be a 2018 edition of the annual Miombo Magic Music Festival which has been held consistently since 2011 in Christon Bank just outside Harare due to the crippling economic situation.

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