By Maxwell Sibanda
As Zimbabwe waits patiently for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to announce his new Cabinet, artists are hoping that there will be a stand-alone ministry for the arts sector.
The artists are advocating that the president picks his Arts minister from the musicians who have joined Parliament in particular Elias Musakwa, Energy Mutodi or Joshua Sacco.
The Daily News on Sunday spoke to some of the artists.
Actor Obrian Mudyiwenyama said for 38 years the arts sector has been ignored.
“I think this is a perfect opportunity for Government to bridge the gap between them and the arts sector by for once lending an ear. We are all hoping for a fresh start and we also want to sing the phrase ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ as the arts sector.
“Yes we are very serious business people and indeed the arts is a business. Lately, the Nigerian economy has surpassed the SA economy and this is attributed largely to their thriving arts sector. We want that here in Zimbabwe. Remember we are right at the centre of Sadc. That is a very big advantage if we have the right system in place,” said Mudyiwenyama.
He said a stand-alone ministry in his opinion ensures that there is focus and the sector is prioritised.
“Government must create an arts fund that can be managed by National Arts Council. Indeed government must be the biggest funders of the arts not foreign entities. This way it means the arts which really speak for the people are benefiting the nation by bridging the gap and encouraging cohesion between the leaders and the people.
“We in a way are the most important public relations vehicles for our country as the arts sector. A lot of artists have been doing serious marketing for this country with zero support from the government.
“It does not have to be like this. We are not asking for free hand outs. No. We want to work. Content creators must be paid by broadcasters. This sector will create a lot of jobs if it is supported like any other business sector,” said Mudyiwenyama.
Arts practitioner Clayton Ndlovu believes that a stand-alone ministry of Arts is ideal. “Government should seriously consider creative industries as one of the pillar stones of boosting the economy.
Therefore a ministry whose focus is on the creative industry policies and implementation would be the right thing to do and it’s about time.
“There is power in the creative industry but without Government’s input we will continue to suffer. So I am hopeful that the new government will make sure that there is focus on the creative industries,” said Ndlovu.
Arts practitioner Josh Nyapimbi said: “I have no doubt that there will be a ministry to cater for arts and culture. Hopefully not separate as previously. The devil is in getting a minister who values the arts and culture.
This obviously will need to be complemented with weeding out all the current staff who has failed the arts and culture sector in both national arts and previous ministry. We need a new board for the Arts Council; the current one has failed us.”
Controversial actor Slyvanos Mudzvova said: “I would prefer a stand-alone ministry for Arts although I am expecting a small Cabinet as well. So if they combined arts with sport or education let’s have a person with arts background for the first time.”
Musician Lyton Ngolomi said: “Government should help us fight piracy, it’s killing artists. The likes of Musakwa and Mutodi know and they have a feel of what we go through when you record, they should help us invent a law that protects our works as musicians.”
Singer Goodchild said: “We wish for the government to create a conducive environment for the Arts sector to thrive.
“We want them to create a fund for the sector. We want them open space for more players in the broadcasting sector particularly television. Policies must be crafted that govern issues to do with broadcasters paying royalties to artists.
“We definitely welcome the idea of a stand-alone ministry as it will help issues to be attended to swiftly. I am hoping the artists in Parliament will do a lot to push our interests and I hope they won’t be absorbed in politics so much they forget to be ambassadors of the arts.”
Guitarist master Pablo Nakappa said: “I personally prefer a stand-alone ministry that is headed by someone who knows the arts industry. Yes, Musakwa, Mutodi and Sacco would deliver, they know the industry.
The rest will depend on the government bringing everyone to work together without any political affiliation. It’s about who is capable. That way things will work for the good of all.”
Playwright Daniel Maposa said he is expecting that the Arts and Culture Policy is implemented and maybe relooked at, that the National Arts Council Act is amended; National Arts Council is strengthened and given more resources to support the Arts.
“Personally I don’t care about it being a stand-alone ministry. For me wherever it is, arts and culture must be prioritised and given equal importance with other sectors.
“I understand as a country we have little resources that need to be well-managed and creating so many stand-alone ministries will eat into money that should be coming into the sector through operational costs.
“We just need people at operational level that are committed to the development of the Arts. Having artists in parliament and effectively as ministers will not change anything if those people and their bureaucrats are not knowledgeable to how and committed to the growth if the sector,” said Maposa.
Poet Albert Nyahi said while he used to advocate for a stand-alone ministry, he has changed his mind. “From my experience, if we do that it might mean more funds will be spent in administration expenses.
We need funds to be channelled to the arts sector via the National Arts Council, an organisation that has the mandate to see to the development of the arts sector in the country, established through an Act of Parliament,” said Nyathi adding that the Arts Council has the necessary network and capacity to handle such demands. -DailyNews