THE arts fraternity has been urged to put their heads together and establish a medical insurance scheme that can assist them when they fall sick.
The call comes louder after the illness and subsequent death of actor Lazarus Boora aka Gringo, last week exposed how our famous artists struggle to raise money for medical care when they fall sick.
The Daily News on Sunday spoke to arts practitioners on the state of the arts industry and its status when it comes to medical insurance for artists.
Celebrated author Virginia Phiri bemoaned the absence of a medical insurance scheme for artists.
“As far back as I can remember, there has never been a culture of medical support from any institution related to the arts considering what is earned by artists locally; the earnings cannot sustain any policy.
“Those artists who have other professions are the ones that can afford medical aid subscriptions. The decline of the economy and loss of jobs has made things worse.
“I am hoping that one day artists will set up their own medical fund with the help of what used to be known as Business Angels. The other difficulty is that medical facilities are way out of reach in terms of charges.”
Bassist Edith WeUtonga said as long as the industry is not formalised, it will always be hard for creatives to afford basic medical care in times of need.
“Formalising the sector will mean we are able to account for all the creatives, their level of skill and ensuring that they are paid their worth. Service providers will be able to accept and offer their services.
“It is not by any fault of the creatives but how we are treated by those we give service to as they have no one to account to.”
Nhimbe Trust executive director Josh Nyapimbi, however, believes the lack of structures and systems is the biggest limitation for the arts sector.
“The arts and culture sector has a lot to learn from the medical and legal fields about self-regulation. Here in Bulawayo, we are not waiting on government, we are going ahead self-regulating as we found a willing and cooperating partner in the Bulawayo City Council. So, devolution of cultural governance is our route.”
Actor and producer Daves Guzha believes there is very little correlation between fame and financial wealth in our sector.
“However, what’s glaringly missing is the link between our financial institutions and the artists/creatives.
“Lack of advisors within the financial services sector who are able to understand and appreciate the value within the creative and cultural industries.”
Arts practitioner Leonard Matsa said the majority of people out there are struggling due to our economy and coronavirus (Covid-19) has worsened things.
“Especially for most artists who have no special economy dedicated to them. Yet the bar of expectation tends to be set way high for artists, sadly even by a bootlegging audience that participated in pirating Gringo The Trouble Maker.
“Luckily, an artist’s wealth is not just their current bank accounts. It is also the joys they brought to our sitting rooms.
“And when those joys offer to treat the artists for free or even bury them and not the next person, it should never be a source of shame, but simply a cash out on that social investment.”
Script writer Enock Chihombori who wrote and also featured in the Gringo series said it is sad that people are quick to judge Zimbabwean actors.
“They see them as irresponsible yet they don’t know what these guys would have had to put up with over the years.
“The fact that the majority of actors die poor is a sign that we have a problem in that industry. The jobs are not regular and payment is never guaranteed.
“Problems start with our platforms of entertainment. What channels do our actors have to convey their products to the viewing public?
“Other countries have vibrant numerous television channels that actively source for programmes to air.
“We only rely on ZBC. Maybe one day some innovative guys can utilise social media platforms to share their products and gain some revenue via adverts.”
Analyst Wonder Guchu said for Gringo, unlike others like Mudhara Bhonzo and Peter Kampira who had chances of making money, he never made it in the league.
“His fame started and ended by being Gringo and ZBC does not pay and was not paying. Gringo never had the opportunity to break it big and that could explain his situation. In his case, one cannot even talk about investing for the fire because there was nothing to invest. He was also unlucky because some people who are mickey-mouse comedians are making money using social media. Gringo never had that opportunity either.
“Maybe in his case, one can talk about self-improvement and not rely only on raw talents. You will understand that Gringo and Marabha are from the same time in the past. Be that as it may, one would expect the managers to prepare artists for times like these.
“Of course, one should not discount the state of the economy that is affecting most people. This can be another reason but generally, Zimbabwean artists have not been lucky.”