ZIMBABWEAN arts is in a celebratory mood. We recently witnessed the holding of the National Arts Merit Awards and most recently the Zimbabwe Music Awards, and we hear there are also Dancehall Music Awards in the offing soon. It is quite commendable that we are recognising our artistes and also motivating future artistes through showing them that there is a future in the arts.
We feel the recognition of the various arts genres is quite an achievement for the artistes and that the awards are just a bonus for those that would have excelled. Our artistes toil for ages using meagre resources with only their passion carrying them through and surely deserve much better than they are currently getting.
However, our plea to artistes is that they should be united and form bodies and strengthen existing ones so that they can fight for the interests of artistes. This is quite an important sector even under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation(Zim Asset).
The arts should be viewed as a business by the practitioners, meaning that artistes should realise that they have a product that they should market and earn a living from.
This is the basic premise and we believe that once there is unity of purpose and artistes identify opportunities and work together towards exploiting these, everything shall fall into place.
The move from analogue to digital in broadcasting has also opened up opportunities by ensuring that there is room for more channels that will certainly need more content.
Content should come in many forms and across the arts sector, but it will take careful planning on the part of the artistes to realise the gains from this development.
There is often murmurs of discontentment regarding corporate support for the arts, with even the awards ceremonies not satisfactorily backed. Instead of mourning over such a state of affairs, the arts sector should take it as a challenge to refine its product so that those with the money find it worth their while to invest in it.
While we applaud the various bodies that have come out to honour artistes even in the face of challenging economic circumstances, we would also like to urge artistes to conduct their business in a manner that the corporate world would want to associate with.
The corporate world understands brands and the power of brands but the larger part of the arts industry is yet to get a full grasp of themselves as a powerful brand.
We have seen innovations and some groundbreaking productions that have made it even on the international scene by some of our artistes, showing the potential that we have as a country but we believe we need more work in terms of packaging and marketing our art out there so that we can uplift our own artistes, so that we celebrate not only our artistes’ artistic prowess but also their financial empowerment through their chosen careers.
Once again, we congratulate all artistes that have done well and continue to strive to do even better and urge them to forge alliances and unite since there is power in unity.