Artists meet over coronavirus…ban on public gatherings to affect live concerts

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ARTISTS and cultural practitioners in Bulawayo will today meet at the Bulawayo Art Gallery for an urgent meeting on the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on their trade.

This comes as the Health ministry last week announced in the Senate that government is mooting banning all public gatherings to contain the virus’ spread.

Today Nhimbe Trust will host the meeting to conceptualise how local arts practitioners can respond to current and prospective effects of Covid-19.

“Coronavirus has significantly impacted arts and culture programming internationally, having implications on mobility, access to public spaces and the flow of cultural goods and services.

“In various jurisdictions globally, there has been the formulation and implementation of measured responses to these disturbances, and our sector should join in these efforts, particularly in developing and strengthening a digital resilience initiative for arts and culture programming, to ensure continued access to arts and culture activities,” said Nhimbe Trust executive director Josh Nyapimbi.

Writer Virginia Phiri said the proposed ban on public gatherings will be very difficult for artists. “New strategies have to be found by artist think tanks in Zimbabwe and their counterparts globally. This has to start right now through consultations. It is going to be tough!”

Singer Edith WeUtonga said it’s unfortunate that such a ban will affect artists, “but at the moment everyone’s number one priority where this virus is … is their health and if the ban on gatherings will help us curb its spread, then it must be so until we are in the clear.

Renowned music promoter Josh Hozheri, who is the chairperson of Zimbabwe Music Promoters Association, said the mooted ban will have far reaching consequences.

“Musicians for example are surviving on live shows. This is their major revenue stream and a ban on gatherings will be unfortunate. In Zimbabwe music sales have been affected by a number of things among them piracy. CDs are not bringing much rewards to musicians because of piracy and live shows have been a platform for them to benefit from their work,” he said.

Hozheri said the ban, though inevitable, will also result in losses to event organisers.
“The virus is a problem across the globe and whether one likes it or not the ban is likely to be effected. For event organisers it is obviously a loss because you would have invested and planning to get rewards on the day of your event.”

Several entertainers among them Winky D, Jah Prayzah and Alick Macheso attract huge crowds at their events.
Winky D’s manager Jonathan Banda said every event going forward will now have to be subject to consultation with health experts.

“We are not experts in health; whatever we will do must be in consultation with experts on how we can proceed.”
Macheso publicist Tich Makahamadze said they put the welfare of their fans first and they will stand guided by authorities. “This is a difficult phase not only for us in showbiz but in various sectors such as sports where events are being called off.

“It is not a time to look at profits or losses but the general welfare of the people. We work with people and we have them at heart and we will not risk their lives. Authorities are there to guide us and we will always abide by their suggestions.”

Wanisayi ‘Mahwindo’ Mutandwa called on showbiz players to be active in dissemination of awareness messages on coronavirus. “It is high time that people have informative jingles on the virus.”
A number of events have already been lined up locally, among them the Jah Prayzah album launch, Burna Boy

Concert and Turbulence gig which have been set for April.
It is no doubt the events are under threat and considering the investment in these events, it will be a setback.

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