BY SHARON SIBINDI
NATIONAL Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo (pictured) on Monday said artists struggling due to the COVID-19 lockdown should access the Relief Fund which was recently launched by the government to assist players in the creative industry.
Moyo told NewsDay Life & Style that the fund was a temporary measure while discussions around long-term projects, in view of the impact of COVID-19 which have not been fully assessed, continued.
“We launched a Relief Fund and it is there at the moment. The artists should apply for that Relief Fund. As we speak, some are busy applying and this week we are distributing the first tranche of money,” he said.
“It’s a relief for now and it’s about $5 000. We are actually saying let’s also be very fair and look at the economy of Zimbabwe — the government we are in and the economy we are in, what is it that we are able to support.”
He said the relief was a stop-gap measure to allow artists to think and plan differently.
Moyo’s sentiments came in the wake of calls by some artists on the government to help them start projects to ease the effects of COVID-19.
Most artists have been reduced to beggars and are now turning to the government for assistance.
Renowned poet and musician Albert Nyathi confirmed that indeed some artists had fallen on hard times and needed to come up with projects that could be funded.
“I don’t have a specific number of artists in this country and the challenge I have is that when we say artists, we are talking about the few people we know. But there are many artists in this country,” he said.
Nyathi said these projects could communicate issues like COVID-19 better to the community.
“I know this is tough because the arts industry is as much in a difficult situation as many other industries but if governments across the globe can afford to allocate an amount and share, it’s a good idea,” he said.
Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube echoed the Nyathi’s sentiments.
“I don’t believe in handouts. I believe in empowerment. There is a possibility to assist artists through projects and initiatives that will also benefit the artists and society. It’s high time we looked at not just saying artists must not work but saying how best can they be allowed to still make a living during this challenging period,” he said.