The National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) are not a lottery ticket for artists to cash in, but a platform for appreciation of outstanding creativity, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), has said.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The pronouncement dispels most artistes’ gripe on why the prime national arts awards have not been parceling more than just a gong and a certificate to winners in recent years.
“It is not like we give monetary prizes as our awards, monetary prizes come as a value addition so at times we see that the noise and controversy comes from what we give because people expect money,” NACZ spokesperson Catherine Mthombeni told The Standard Style.
This comes at a time the deadline for submission of entries for the 18th edition of the country’s biggest arts award ceremony has been set for November 30, while the ceremony will be held on February 16 next year at a venue to be announced.
According to Mthombeni the award is only a “coveted trophy and certificate” and anything else is dependent on the availability funding or sponsorship.
“These other things that then come are value addition and since the inception of Nama we have been consistent, we hold them regardless of the economic challenges,” she said.
NACZ director Nicholas Moyo also weighed in revealing that the Nama planning budget running in excess of $105 000 was already a strain to the government institution.
“Monetary prizes will remain a far-fetched goal for NACZ because Nama costs about $105 000 per year and in this economy, it’s bad. So, when we get a part of it, we use it accordingly,” said Moyo.
However, the recently elevated boss added that cash prizes were “the last thing we will ever give” even if they were to get more funding.
“I would prefer even taking Nama to Elephant Hills Hotel [Victoria Falls] and fly all nominees there. We want to give them a memorable experience of the awards and when we say value-addition that is what we are talking about,” he said, adding that they were following to an international template.
“We will never sit and say we have made profits, so let us put a cash award. that is not going to be in the middle to long-term because we will be creating a wrong image about the awards, even international awards do not give money.”
True to his sentiments major awards like United States’ Annual Grammy Awards do not give physical cheques, but according to South Africa’s Independent Online: “the association to the Grammy’s…does have them (artistes) reaping substantial financial gain in the long run.”
Moyo also added that his fear was that some artistes would “go and blow it [cash prize] off”.
“When you put value to the awards then artistes get rich because then they get more signings. so we want to invest in the image of the awards because if we give money the issue is that they will go and blow it away.”
Meanwhile, Moyo said they will be rebranding the awards which have been marred by controversy almost each year casting a dark cloud over their credibility.
“We want to rebrand it (Nama) although it may not be this coming year because it is an institution and it will be unfair for me to promise a lot for people to say we are waiting for better things because my predecessor has left,” he said.