Zimbabwe this year played host to the 7th Artizen International Conference on Art for Social Transformation.
The annual indaba was held at the Zimbabwe College of Music from November 3 to 7 with a focus on unearthing Zimbabwe’s symbolic landscape, cultural narrative and opportunities to further integrate art and culture into the local environment.
Running under the theme “Connecting Artist and Art Culture to Sustainable Development”, the gathering attracted cultural and creative practitioners and stakeholders from all categories of the arts sector and was attended by leaders in sustainable development from around the world, including teaching and performing artists, community leaders and students.
Artizen’s mission extends to numerous countries in the world, including Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the Unites States, among others. One of its primary goals is to provide a platform for idea exchange among artists, community developers, policymakers and potential investors in sustainable development.
Participants explored innovative ideas and practical strategies with a focus on growth, financial support and increasing impact and citizen participation in community development affairs.
This year’s event was jointly organised by the Teaching Artists Institute (TAI) from Baltimore, United States, and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ).
Recently appointed director of NACZ, Josiah Kusena, emphasised the significance of hosting the conference. He noted that it was a crucial step in capacity building for the sector and complemented NACZ’s strategic efforts to promote and develop the local arts sector.
“This conference is a true reflection of the importance of establishing global alliances and partnerships that exist in the cultural and creative sphere,” Kusena said.
“Our mandate as a council is to build a vibrant and viable creative economy through education, exchange programs, trainings, capacity building, creating synergies, and strategic partnerships with local regional and international organisations and corporates in order to access and unlock support and opportunities available in the global creative sector.”
The first edition made was held in 2017, with the inaugural conference being hosted in Ghana, followed by Gambia (2018), Uganda (2019), Tanzania (2020), South Africa (2021) and Kenya (2022).
Notable keynote speakers included Soul-Fusion performing artist Kim Poole, who is a founding fellow of TAI and the chief visionary of the Artizen conference philosophy.
The conference also offered a platform for workshops, including one facilitated by Ngwenya on indigenous languages and storytelling held at Nyakupfuya Farm off Mutoko road. The author of Portrait of Emlanjeni and The Fifty Rand Note emphasised the importance of preserving and promoting indigenous languages through art, recognising the value of these languages in expressing the essence of humanity.