Arts managers to professionalise sector

Local artistes say they are struggling to lure huge audiences, who seemed to prefer foreign acts. The artistes were speaking at a Food For Thought discussion session to kickstart the formalisation of arts management in the country on Tuesday.

BY ARTS REPORTER

The session, organised by the United States embassy in Harare, was facilitated by Plot Mhako of Jibilika Arts Trust and moderated by social entrepreneur and 263AfricaTV founder, Nico Abote.

Abote — who has overseen the successful hosting of the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) and the Anne Kansiime Stand Up show — decried lack of appreciation by local audiences.

Hope Masike and Marcus Gora

“Locally, audiences do not appreciate our products that much. We seem to struggle to get to platforms other artistes from other countries are getting into,” he said.

Mhako said Zimbabwe had become “a microwave society”, where art works were produced quickly and often with poor quality for gullible audiences.

“In the end we hero worship ourselves, we celebrate mediocrity, and we are too comfortable,” he said.

Award-winning band Mokoomba’s manager, Marcus Gora, however differed, saying such an argument was misplaced.

“The story of Mokoomba is that they have based their art form on traditional songs, people say we are known more outside than inside – that’s the reality, Zimbabwe is known more by outsiders than locals,” he said.

“As artistes, we shouldn’t be worried about that as a limitation. Arts management is only popping up now and exposure is the education.”

Mbira maestro, Hope Masike, who was a panellist, said Zimbabwe did not consume different types of music per given time.

“The audience does not appreciate music that they have not heard on radio. It’s all of us are to blame for that — the audience and the artists. We need to get variety,” she said.

Masike chronicled her challenges trying to get Zimbabweans to support her after her Kora award nomination.

“Nigeria dominates Kora because they are big,” she said. “But it could be more national. It takes much effort for Zimbabwe to be well known. I have been following other nominees’ campaign. We are a bit slow here, but when we catch up it becomes like fire.”

Budding arts manager, Phineas Mushayi, who has been working to promote dancehall music, said currently “the music genre comes from the street and has neither structure nor strategy. Management does not exist. There was so much chaos and hence the need to bring in sanity.”

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