Local entertainment promoters have raised red flags over the persisting economic hardships, which they say will bring gloom to the festive season for most musicians and stakeholders in the creative sector.
Night life in major cities like Harare has significantly toned down already due to beer shortages and a steep rise in prices of consumer goods as well as services while people’s bank balances rapidly lose value.
A recent survey carried out by The Standard Style showed that there has been a slump in activity at most entertainment joints in the capital with some mooting to cease subcontracted entertainment owing to the economic situation.
Music promotion company Devine Assignments proprietor, Biggie Chinoperekwei, who runs a number of night spots around the country, said the crisis was having a crippling effect on the showbiz industry.
“This festive season will be very different from the past because by now people would have been spending much on entertainment, but it is not so and we [promoters] are not even looking forward to a rise in business,” he said.
Chinoperekwei said they had begun a process of cutting on the live shows, both indoor and outdoor, in order to channel funds towards the purchase of alcohol in what is set to negatively affect artistes.
“Artistes we host are in trouble because we would rather put the resources towards replenishing our alcohol supply because it is now a better pull factor than outsourced entertainment,” he said, hinting that some traditional platforms like the weekly Jam Sessions could soon be suspended.
According to David Mudzudzu, who runs entertainment joints under the Club Joy Centre franchise in Harare, the dire situation could also force them to reduce live performances by artistes.
“Artistes are promoted by imbibers who enjoy the shows while consuming alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, but if the shortages persist, then musicians will not have enough fans to support them,” he said.
Mudzudzu, who is also the Zimbabwe Business and Arts Hub (Zibah) arts and entertainment director, said the shortage of beverages was their biggest worry.
“We do not have enough alcohol and drinks because our suppliers are rationing yet we get money from sales since we do not charge people to get into our centres, so we are in a fix,” said Mudzudzu.
The development comes at a time artistes, especially the upcoming, are already struggling to get space to perform with the absence of official art spaces cited as a major problem, which leaves night joints as the alternative.
Zimbabwe Music Association (ZIMU) chairperson Edith Weutonga (pictured below) lamented the current economic woes as a loophole for extensive piracy and abuse of musicians.
“I have heard of gigs that were cancelled because there was no beer at the venues, so I think we are in a catch-22 situation where we do not have spaces to perform or an online platform to officially sell our music, therefore, the piracy levels will rise,” said Weutonga, who also bemoaned the rampant exploitation of budding artistes.
“Upcoming artistes already did not have space and they are usually not paid flat fees at these platforms, but now it will get worse when the spaces close. The landscape currently is definitely not good for the growth of the music sector.”
Though it may be hard to assess the adverse effects the ongoing crisis has caused to artists, it is evident that things are not well for many and if left as is, the situation will affect the livelihoods of local musicians immensely.