BY WINSTONE ANTONIO ORGANISERS of the Jacaranda Music Festival (JMF) have said there is a need to empower female creatives to participate in different facets of the arts and culture industry.
Females in the creative space are on record bemoaning “segregation” in the industry amid allegations that their male counterparts get special treatment from both promoters and the corporate world.
As a way of embracing the female creatives’ empowerment drive, the organisers of the festival, which was a hybrid event (a mix of live and virtual actions), held from Wednesday to Saturday in line with the COVID-19 guidelines incorporated female creatives to take leading roles in managing the event.
Festival director Walter Wanyanya told NewsDay Life & Style on the sidelines of the closing concert on Saturday at The Venue in Avondale, Harare, that they will do their best to empower female creatives to be part of the back-end production and claim their piece of cake in the male-dominated industry.
“As we have committed ourselves to promote the female artists, for this year’s edition of the Jacaranda Music Festival, we had put in place mechanisms that we hope would enable more female creatives to perform and it’s not just about performance, on the stage,” he said.
“Off the stage, it is also about getting women involved in every aspect of the show. For this festival, we had an educational workshop that was literally designed for women to get into backstage management, lightning and artiste liaison offices specifically designed for them (women).
Wanyanya said 10 women were selected to undergo an intensive two-day training workshop conducted by veteran production and technical consultant Carine Tredgold who has been part of the production team for the Harare International Festival of the Arts for many years.
“As the production side of showbiz is male dominated, we decided to empower females through the workshop and as soon as they finished that training, they then took over the stage management of the festival as part of their practicals alongside two guys,” he said.
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“We are committed to promoting female artistes not only to put them on the stage because that is what we see and where the glamour is, and it’s always easy to talk about it, what about backstage management, what about lightning?
“The person, who handled our lightning is a lady, Mildred Moyo, she leads the female team and there were only two guys in that team. So, if we are talking of involving women in events, Jacaranda Music Festival had more of them than men in the back-end of the production and that is something that people would not want to talk about because it’s not limelight.”
Commenting on Mbira queen Hope Masike being the only female artiste who took to the stage at the festival, Wanyanya said: “The criteria of choosing artistes this year was not necessarily gender-based, she just happened to be the only female. We did not choose her to try to meet a quota per se, in this case we just had a line-up and Hope was part of it, above all she holds her own just like the male musicians.”
Wanyanya said he was happy that the festival, that ended on Saturday night with contemporary award-winning musician Jah Prayzah closing the show, went according to script.
“We are happy with the success of the hybrid Jacaranda Music Festival and we hope that we can be able to make it a permanent hybrid event, especially for those in the diaspora as they actually enjoy watching what is happening at home with our artistes,” he said.
“This particular edition of the festival saw us partnering with corporates on the educational side, Old Mutual came on board and it gave us some assistance at teaching the artistes about financial education and how they can make the most of their earnings.”
He added; “We also had Stanbic Bank on board facilitating and helping us to be able to bring to the people the performance side of the festival that we had on Friday and Saturday. This is something that we need as the creative economy, we need partnerships like this that will further the initiatives that we have.”
“Creative practitioners must show resilience and professionalism when we do what we do as this can be the only way that we can attract the corporate world as nobody can partner someone who is not doing business properly.”
This year’s edition of the festival was headlined by globe-trotting Afro-fusion band Mokoomba which shared the stage with Bryan K and Masike on Friday, while multi-award-winning singer Jah Prayzah was the lead act on the closing concert on Saturday that also featured Afro-fusion singer Mbeu and The Travellers Band.
Part of the programme at the festival included the Cultural Connections Africa Conference that featured both local and international creatives, songwriting and music composition workshop hosted by veteran musician Alexio Kawara, Music Business Conference, that encompassed personal development-financial planning hosted by financial facilitator Kudzai Mubaiwa, a discussion on the future on Zimbabwe’s pop music that featured producer JMP, Kadengu and Chimurenga renaissance Tendai Maraire, legal issues involved in music business, professional stage management workshop for women hosted by production and technical consultant Carine Tredgold.
Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto