'Every Hifa edition is unique'

HARARE - While the Harare International Festival of Arts 18th edition which took place in and around the Harare Gardens between May 1-6 was disturbed by rains and a cold biting weather, it also had its spark.

The opening show, which is usually one of the main highlights spiced by fireworks, was nearly washed away.

The Daily News Lifestyle Writer recently spoke with Hifa associate executive director Tafadzwa Simba, on his perspective of the six-day showcase and several issues raised by show goers over the festival’s programming especially the fact that they were a few big names; Lira, Winky D and Freshlyground.

Q: How would you compare this year’s edition to the other past 17 editions?

A: As I have always said, each festival edition is unique and should be assessed by its own merits. The facts that the festival was held in each of the years you mention is a mark of success in itself.

Q: But there are critics who say your programming has to change.

A: As a deliberately not-for-profit organisation, Hifa’s intentions and standards are different from the superficial fixation on mega-concert type hype that some near-sighted spectators-cum-critics might be interested in.

Hifa is about growth of the artistic sector and some of the aforementioned spectators ignore the fact that there is more to Art than just music and more to music than the three or four of their favourite artistes they might have and whom they want to see on stage.

Q: Are you happy with this year and last year’s editions?

A: Hifa is pleased with the 2017 and 2018 editions as they were a platform for hundreds of Zimbabwean artists from many genres to showcase their work and impart to visiting artists some of their skills whilst also learning a thing or two from those artists too.

Hifa is also extremely grateful to all team members who worked hard on each edition as well as all the other stakeholders who played a role in getting a high-quality event up in a national context where a lot of endeavours are falling by the wayside.

Q: How have you managed in these difficult economic times?

A: Lest we forget, let us bear in mind that the socio-economic context in which we are all operating has been quite difficult and whole companies have closed shop.

It is, therefore, all the more heartening that all stakeholders have done enough to ensure that the festival continues to serve the public in general and the artistic community in particular.

Q: Is there going to be another edition next year, or it’s too early to tell?

A: There will be a Hifa in 2019, more details will come shortly.

Q: What were the challenges you faced in organising the festival and during the festival?

A: The main one was the change in regulations regarding payment for flight tickets.

That was a curveball of note but happily with the support of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, our bankers Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe as well as our travel agent Premier Travel, we managed to get the flights and put on this important national event.

Q: How many people attended this year’s Hifa, and how many were employed?

A: The numbers are still being collated.

Q: Now that the festival is over and as you wait for the next, what happens in-between, are they any other projects you are engaged in?

A: It is a very important one and the answer is in two parts. Firstly, and thank you again for the opportunity to re-state this, some people think that Hifa is only around for a few weeks before the event.

Hifa is an organisation that runs throughout the year and the main work is to prepare for the next year’s edition. Those preparations are extremely extensive and take a lot of time and effort so, that is what the Hifa team has already begun doing whilst winding up Hifa 2018.

Secondly, yes there are a number of projects that Hifa will be involved in this year. These will include things that Hifa will present anew as well as continuation of its urban renewal projects. Details will be availed soon.


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