20th Nama entries substandard: NACZ

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo

NATIONAL Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), the organisers of the country’s premier arts awards, National Arts Merit Awards (Nama), yesterday said there has been a considerable decline in standards in entries submitted for the forthcoming edition of the awards.

NACZ director Nicholas Moyo made the remarks as he announced the list of nominees for the awards ceremony set for February 26 at Harare International Conference Centre.

The Nama awards, which recognise and reward excellence in creativity and talent within the creative sector, make a return after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The awards ceremony will be held under the theme Zimbabwe and Beyond #AmaLevels.

Moyo said 2 135 entries were received at the close of nomination on November 30, 2021.

“The cultural and creative sector has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and it is with no doubt that there has been a need for the sector to adjust to the “new normal”,” Moyo said.

“The 20th Nama will, thus, recognise creatives who have taken to the emerging platforms for the delivery of creative content by recognising the social media skits under the spoken word category.”

Moyo said the judges had been involved in the arduous task of adjudicating the entries, utilising the predetermined criterion.

“The adjudication process was based on submitted entries as well as those identified by individual and institutional monitors appointed to track excelling artists throughout the nomination period of two years covered by the 20th Nama,” he said.

“The adjudicators also observed that in some areas, like music, there were significant numbers of highly competitive products submitted because of mainly the long period of consideration for entries.”

He added: “COVID-19 also proved a challenge for sectors that rely on live audiences for performances or exhibitions. This applied to theatre, spoken word and the visual arts.

“The adjudicators, therefore, would like to generally commend the originality and innovation exhibited in the entries submitted for the awards.”

Moyo said the adjudicators observed that in music, there was a high number of entries for the nomination period, which presented a challenge in judging music created over such a long period of time.

“Good music tends to replace other good music over time, and this gave adjudicators a torrid time,” he said.

“There was a considerable increase in the amount of material submitted for the Literary Arts Awards. There were also a lot of good books submitted, while online submissions tended to be of inferior quality, as many submitted unpublished books. There was an impressive increase of entries of books in vernacular.”

Moyo said in the visual arts category, adjudicators had difficulties accessing materials as most exhibitions were affected by lockdown restrictions which kept most galleries and exhibitions closed for prolonged periods.

“The adjudicators noted a concerning lack of creativity and artistic depth in the dance entries, as some of the submissions were too short to constitute a serious dance production for consideration,” he said.

“However, the adjudicators also noted some improvement in the creation of new site-specific dances, which are choreographed for specific physical settings.”

Moyo said in the film and television categories, the adjudicators were impressed by the submissions for the Outstanding Music Video Award, which made it very difficult to choose the best from the best.

“The adjudicators felt that the number and quality of entries in the Media Awards were greatly affected by the absence of events in the arts sector over the past two years.”

“Most reporters based their reporting on events, and thus, with few events due to COVID-19, there were very few submissions. The adjudicators would thus like to encourage journalists to shift their focus from event-based reporting so as to broaden their coverage of events in the CCI sector.”

He said the 108 nominees came from all over the country.

Meanwhile, Moyo said submissions for the 21st Nama awards opened on December 1, 2021 and would close on November 31, 2022, adding that nomination forms were available at the designated points.

The nominees from 2 135 entries that were received cover arts disciplines such as the visual arts, theatre, literary arts, film and television, dance, media, spoken word and music categories.

For this year’s entries, music dominated submissions across categories with 794 entries followed by film and television with 434, visual arts 283, literature 254, spoken word 104 and dance 99.

Media and theatre categories received the least entries with 80 and 87 entries, respectively.

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