PLAYERS in the local arts industry have criticised the government for failing to fund arts and culture, leaving it to survive on donations, saying this has hindered growth of the sector.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
This comes amid a public outcry over the lack of government funding for arts and culture, largely as a result of competing budgetary requirements at a time the national cake continues to shrink.
As a result, Zimbabwe’s arts industry has lagged behind its regional counterparts, making it difficult for artistes to play catch-up with international standards.
While funding is a major concern, the Swedish Embassy has been among the few who came to the party, unveiling a
$1,35 million rescue package for cultural activities meant to reduce gender violence, combat child marriages and promote environmental awareness.
The Swedish Embassy’s rescue package signalled its rekindling of romance with the Culture Fund, a development some participants in the arts and culture sector, described as a major boost for the sector.
Zimbabwe Business and Arts Hub (Zibah), chairperson, Takemore Mazuruse said there is little development in the country that can take place without the infusion of arts and culture.
“Arts and culture has a lot of bearing on how society behaves hence it should not be a fringe player, but be actively involved in shaping the national trajectory especially where developmental issues are concerned,” he said.
“We embrace this positive development by the Swedish Embassy for their thoughtfulness in availing funding that will go a long way in dealing with such ills as gender violence and child marriages, while promoting environmental awareness.”
Arts promoter, Plot Mhako said the Swedish Embassy funding is encouraging and commendable, given that the Culture Fund had no funding in the past year which affected some of great projects that relied on its support.
Mhako, however, said this kind of support towards the sector should come for creative work with less of developmental dictates which he said at times tend to armtwist and stifle cultural growth.
Musician-cum creative director at Magitare Africa Trust, Tariro neGitare said: “Such funding partnerships will allow for the right kind of interventions and I hope that it yields the desired results and actually makes a tangible difference in women and girls’ lives in Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe Musicians Union (Zimu) interim president Edith Katiji, known as Edith WeUtonga on the showbiz scene, welcomed the donation saying it gives them hope, as they are in the process of setting up a women’s desk to address girl child issues through music to help challenge and curb gender-based violence.
“Having been involved in the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)-led campaign against Sexual Gender-Based Violence, as an individual, leading some of my fellow musicians in that campaign, the funding will go a long way to curb these activities with unity from my fellow women and men in the music fraternity,” she said.
African Roots music exponent and sculptor Bryn Taurai Mteki said: “It is my hope that us as artistes who are also the cultural ambassadors we will be engaged for a common cause with the relevant authorities and powers to advocate for these awareness campaigns through song and dance and sculptural work to promote living in a good environment for a better tomorrow,” he said.
The head of Swedish Development Co-operation Maria Selin said partnering with Culture Fund has produced good results over the past years as they managed to achieve their main objectives.