Govt’s monetary policy, no reprieve for showbiz

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya last week announced the much-awaited monetary policy for this year, in which he liberalised the trade of foreign currency and introduced the real time gross settlement (RTGS) dollar as the local currency.

In a similar fashion when Finance minister Mthuli Ncube presented the 2019 national budget, stakeholders in the arts industry have again expressed mixed reactions over the monetary policy.

In separate interviews with NewsDay Life & Style some creatives said the monetary policy brings no joy to the showbiz industry.
Jibilika Dance Trust founder and arts promoter, Plot Mhako said the monetary policy will make life more difficult for already hard-pressed artistes, promoters and stakeholders.

“It is a very tough walk. It will be hard to bring in foreign artistes into the country, import technical equipment, print promotional material as foreign currency is required.
I foresee some promoters slowing down on operations and possibly some closing shop,” he said.

“The only option for a promoter is to extend the financial burden brought by fluid exchange rates onto the fans, but most may struggle to afford as they prioritise their livelihood. This means artistes will get few gigs.”

Samuel “Boss Weras” Saungweme of Werras Entertainment said: “Whenever a policy is made, as non-essential service providers, we always come last. Our business depends on the people’s spending power and if there are no changes to be brought by the recent monetary policy, definitely we will be affected. We continue to be in this showbiz industry because we do things for passion.”

“We need to source forex on the parallel market if we are to bring foreign artistes, how much will I then charge to recover all the expenses associated in bringing a $10 000 worthy artiste? You cannot go to a music show when your family is hungry, so non-essential services will suffer until the economy stabilises. We are crying as a showbiz industry, we hope the economy will start performing soon.”

Arts critic, Benjamin Nyandoro said the monetary policy had added unpredictability to the showbiz concerns.

“I regard promotion as unlicenced gambling, we commit money in anticipation for returns around many factors such as whether revellers will turn up, fear of rains, artistes no-show, and breakages; the list is endless. Among our concerns is unpredictability that is what this monetary policy has added to our list of concerns,” he said.

Entertainment Republic promoter Max “Nana” Mugaba said his hope is that the market responds favourably.

“The effects of this monetary policy will be felt when market responds to the statement, as it is about market confidence and the presence of a stable macro-economic environment. A negative response will most likely result in earnings and salaries values being devalued, a depressed income for our fans’ income has a direct impact on our ticket sales and ancillary earnings because fans will be spending less,” he said.

Local artistes and promoters have in the past called on government to engage and consult widely on arts and cultural matters so that the growth of the sector is attained.

Of late there have been wide calls by players in the arts and culture industry for government to set the tone for the revival of this sector arguing that in some countries like
America or closer to home, South Africa, the arts and culture sector contribute billions to the country’s fiscus.

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