LOCAL artists should build strong partnerships within and beyond the creative sector if the segment is to utilise opportunities brought by coronavirus (Covid-19) so they transform into a recognisable, viable and vibrant cultural industry.
These sentiments were raised by participants in a ResiliArt debate organised by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) on the Zoom platform which focused on the youth in the arts, the impact of Covid-19 and opportunities for future development.
Lisa Sidambe of Nhimbe Trust said while artists had responded to the challenges brought by Covid-19 through taking their work to digital spaces there was a need to support this transformation with the required policy framework and infrastructure.
“While artists need to work together to package digital products and promote their consumption, this is very difficult at the moment as there is very minimal policy environment to support adaptability to this new digital environment,” said Sidambe.
Artist and House of Arts Association executive chairperson Casper Chigama said Covid-19 had jolted the creative persons in the country to transform their analogue ideas into digital projects which have created room for more collaboration between various categories of artists.
“The digital environment has increased marketing space for some creative arts while others have suffered diminished returns due to lack of physical audiences, we, therefore, need to create a space to dialogue as the youth to chart the way forward for the arts sector,” said Chigama.
Plot Mhako the founder of Jibilika Dance Trust said there is a need for coherence in terms of government support to the sector.
“At the moment ministries like Tourism, Youth, Industry and Trade all deal with artists in one way or another, resulting in disconnection in support of the arts sector. Artists need to come together to examine and deter-mine the vision for the arts sector in Zimbabwe,” Mhako said.
Representing the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) Juliana Kariri said artists should take advantage of the dialoguing platforms offered by the government to air their views and lobby for the support they preferred from the state.
“We had the youth Relief Fund meant to assist youth social enterprises across the country, while the fund was meant to complement other funds; it is disheartening that there was a low uptake of the fund in the arts sector. We had 5 000 grant applications of which 1 092 were successful — sadly only 20 were in the arts sector,” she said.
Deputy director of Nacz, Josiah Kusena called on the artists to be proactive in their dealings with the government.
“The government won’t think for the sector. Government works on what the industry wants. There is a need for you (artists) to make submissions, create documents that go to the appropriate government officers. Without that nothing will happen,” Kusena said.
ResiliArt is a global movement initiated by Unesco that aims to strengthen the resilience of artists and cultural professionals in the face of the enormous challenges posed by the current Covid-1919 health crisis.
The Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE) held its 2020 biennial from August 25 to 29.
Pace is an initiative of the Vrystaat Arts Festival, a four-day, biennial arts market/provocation for the interdisciplinary arts in Africa.
PACE is a platform to showcase the highest quality productions from Africa to national and international presenters, producers, buyers, artists and the general public.
There are eight aspects to PACE including presenting full shows for tour-ready work; showcasing excerpts of tour-ready work; showcasing excerpts of work in progress; pitching new work; producers shadowing and exchange programme; workshops and critical debate/round table sessions; networking programmes; and key PACE events.
The fully virtual event, due to the realities of Covid-19, involved participants from around the world.