Artistes demand command funds

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

MUSIC Associations and Arts Promoters in Zimbabwe (MAAPZ) has pleaded with the government to set up a command arts and culture fund structured in the same way as command agriculture to cushion artistes who have continued to suffer under COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

Most artistes have been reduced to beggars and are now turning to government for assistance as their plight continues to worsen since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year in March.

MAAPZ chairperson Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza yesterday said government support was the missing link for artistes in this COVID-19 environment.

Chipaz’s remarks come on the backdrop of a ban on live concerts by Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga barely two days after President Emmerson Mnangawa had yielded to artistes’ pressure last week and authorised the reopening of the showbiz sector.

In what appeared to be a reprieve for the creatives, Mnangagwa on Thursday gave artistes the greenlight to host live concerts with not more than 50 guests, but on Saturday, Chiwenga moved in and banned gatherings, including live music concerts amid a rise in COVID-19
infections.

Chiwenga announced a raft of measures that include ban on all gatherings except funerals (that will only have 30 people), change of business hours, closure of market places and limiting the number of people in shops at any given time, among others.

“Let me applaud the good government for considering our pleas as they had allowed us to open events.

“However, our request to the government is to now come up with  ways of cushioning our sector as a whole, be it with loans or group project funding among others while we patiently await the opening of our sector,” Chipaz said.

“In the meantime, we also request the good government to have a budget for our sector for artists to be able to push and advocate for everyone to be vaccinated for I believe our sector is a good platform to push government initiatives, but for a small token of appreciation so that by the time events open, promoters, artists service providers and fans would have been vaccinated.”

Chipaz said their members would patiently wait for the reopening of the sector.

“As law-abiding citizens in as much as it pains us, we must also thank the government for considering the safety of everyone above everything else, they saw it necessary to have safety and we will abide by the directive,” he said.

The creative industry had no kind words for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry, accusing her of failing to live up to expectation in terms of addressing their welfare.

Meanwhile, in a statement, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) acting director Josia Kusena urged the sector to utilise digital alternatives to reach out to the general public.

“The day-to-day office work by artists for continued production and creation of new arts shall align to the 8am to the 6pm work routines as enunciated in the new COVID-19 containment regulations,” he said

“NACZ, therefore, encourages all the arts sector players to comply and give maximum support to the government and national efforts to contain the COVID-19 third wave currently on the rise in our nation.”

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