Trying times for artists


THE coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has seen sweeping changes across the art world as galleries and showbiz facilities have been forced to close their doors while the cultural calendar of exhibitions and festivals has been disabled.

For most artists the entire work calendar for 2020 went up in smoke from March 30 when the local national lockdown took effect as venues were closed, gatherings of people banned and film sets halted.

In Zimbabwe, music bands heavily depend on live shows but with the ban on gatherings remaining firmly in place, that avenue would not be bringing in much-needed revenue any time soon.

As for stone sculptors and other visual artists, their spaces have been shut down indefinitely while also suffering the double whammy of closed spaces and no visits by international tourists, who form a solid clientele base.

While the financial impact of Covid-19 is huge on those working in the arts sector, the impact of the crisis goes beyond loss of income — it also affects artists’ visibility.

A helicopter view of the arts industry shows the carnage affects everyone.
It is heartening that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government realise that there is need for some stimulus package for this industry.

However, pronouncements will remain futile in the absence of implementation and results.
It is disconcerting that Sport, Art and Culture minister Kirsty Coventry has not laid out her ministry’s plans on how it will assist artists.

Many artists are deeply worried about the lack of work in the coming months as they feel totally broken while mental health is very, very fragile.

Artists are already writing this year off as the industry has been decimated; hence the aftermath will be catastrophic. Most of them do not know how they will survive this with no savings to their name.

For the self-employed who have no fixed income, earnings fluctuate month to month.
To compound matters, there are no compensatory measures as insurances were voided when the World Health Organisation declared the virus a pandemic.

Everyone is aware that the government is broke but whatever fund is made available for artists, coming with clearly laid out plans — it would be more welcome than the current situation.

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