Consider arts sector as serious business

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WHILE world celebrities, who include artists, have been in the forefront donating millions of dollars to help fight Covid-19-induced hunger, in Zimbabwe it has been the opposite.

This week officials in the ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation visited celebrated actress Jesesi Mungoshi and all-time record Soccer Star of the Year Award winner George Shaya where they donated foodstuffs and groceries as a way to cushion them from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown.

This is not the first food donation we have witnessed being given to “famous” personalities. Jesesi, wife to the late prolific writer Charles Mungoshi, in accepting the officials’ food donation blasted the government for neglecting excelling artists over the years. She believes artists like her husband and herself should be well off if their professions are recognised by the government.

Since independence in 1980, the government has constantly failed to recognise the arts and entertainment as a serious business sector, hence making it impossible to eradicate poverty among the artists.

Artists are able to make a living if there is a drastic change in the system of governance and implementation of sound policies crafted to suit the smooth operation of the arts sector. Equally, the government has dismally failed to empower youth through sport, arts and recreation by creating platforms and support services for them to grow and be recognised internationally.

Since independence, the government has failed to build a single arts centre or theatre and even the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) headquarters is being housed in rented buildings. We only have privately-owned arts centres that thrive on donor support and some of them are really struggling to create programmes and projects that help our communities.

The arts sector comprises various paying art forms; film and television, music, dance, theatre, visual art, publishing, fashion, production and promotions.

All the sectors need to function with proper administrative structures; unions, organisations, trusts or associations have to be fully registered and recognised by the Nacz through appropriate funding from the government. The creative industry cannot fund itself; successful projects have always had massive financial assistance from mostly donors, the likes of Amakhosi Arts Centre, Theatre in The Park, Studio 263 and the film Neria, are some examples.

We also blame the artists who over the years have made the government think they don’t deserve better. While the government has availed $20 million to assist artists during the Covid-19 lockdown, one wonders how this would be distributed; what criteria would be used to give assistance to artists?

We hope that captains in the arts industry who have the expertise and the experience will give guidance to the facility’s disbursement.

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