HARARE – A thousand definitions can be used to define arts centres but for the purpose of this write-up an arts centre will be described as a recreational facility that meets the economic and social desires of both the producer and the consumer.
In this regard, the producer could either be the performing artistes, musicians, poets and dancers or visual and crafts artists like sculptors and painters.
These creative entrepreneurs target consumers of artistic products who include the youths, parents, religious circuits, business community, farmers, physicians, tourists to mention but a few.
Arts centres are independent and interconnected establishments influential in the promotion, marketing and development of the creative industries.
They form the backbone of arts empowerment that facilitate the get-together of up-coming and renowned artistes including arts administrators to study and exchange ideas in a more mature way.
They act as instrumental mediums to gather information from the artistes and then seek possible ways to address the socio-economic challenges affecting their operations.
Artistes need their own place to outstandingly shape their skills in the bid to excel in this industry. Gone are the days where artistes used to plead for rehearsals in private facilities.
Today’s arts practitioners need to move with time and adapt to international and professional ways of doing business.
Therefore, it is very important for artistes and arts organisations to establish arts centres where they will conduct their training sessions, cultural exchange programmes in favourable conditions as well as generating funds from hiring out the facilities.
An arts centre could also be a home for the homeless artistes or a laboratory for all the technical and creative experiments.
In other words, an arts centre is the most proficient mechanisation of production in the arts industry.
They could also provide the basis for ascertaining or measuring production levels and the economic value of artistic products in the country.
Technically, this could assist the government through the relevant ministries and other interested partners to determine the best ways of capacitating various players in the arts sector.
However, for these centres to grow from strength to strength there is need for realistic managerial structures to be put in place with strict regulations to be followed.
For example, an arts centre could be obliged to be operational only when it enlists the services of a centre manager, a production manager along with one or two programme coordinators.
Such a competent technical team will have to come up with vibrant operational programmes that meet the core-functions of an ideal arts centre.
The operations of arts centres need to be regulated and monitored.
That is why it is critical for them to be registered with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz).
Stakeholders should remember that registration with Nacz must be completed as a legal procedure in Zimbabwe.
Apart from regulating arts activities, the Nacz offers arts consultancy to artistes seeking knowledge on the best ways to operate professionally.
The Nacz, upon request, may assist artistes with samples or illustrations of such facilities.
Arts practitioners registered with the Nacz have the highest chances of accessing funding opportunities and other benefits.
Arts centres offer excellent opportunities to committed individual artistes, groups and arts institutions to express their talents.
After setting up an arts centre, children and young people will be exposed to such ancient but important concepts and forums such as padare, zviara, jiti, dandaro, jenaguru and nguva yengano that used to link people in sharing knowledge, skills and entertainment ideas.
They can also be used to host workshops, wedding parties, seminars, dinner dances and concerts.
Artistes can also sub-let other less utilised facilitates as a way generating revenue.
An arts centre is a “sleeping giant” with the potential to captivate arts lovers and thereby act as platform for advertising and marketing various products including offering educative and recreational facilities for workers.
Establishment of arts centres therefore is a responsibility of everyone.
A proper centre could be very expensive that is why it is important to engage local authorities to avail land that can be used for establishment of such facilities.
Corporates should be persuaded to establish and support arts centres as part of their social responsibility programmes.
*Mari is the Director of National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and feedback and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org