As the country’s economy continues to dwindle amid soaring prices of basic commodities coupled with shortages, the arts sector has not been spared with most of its stakeholders now considering entertainment a luxury.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
This has had a negative effect on both direct and indirect beneficiaries of the sector locally who continue to witness more revenue streams close owing to the crisis.
Earlier this week another shocking development emerged when one of the arts’ largest benefactors, Delta Beverages, which sponsors a number of showbiz events, announced that they would start selling their beverages in hard currency in a move that government has temporarily “solved”.
However, this is not the first time that the local giant beverage producer has announced such a drastic move as they did the same last month when they halted production of some non-alcoholic products.
In addition to it all, alcohol had been in shortage already, which has affected the entertainment industry as patronage slumped immensely at most night joints in the country resulting in night club proprietors reducing the number of live performances they host.
In a recent interview, Zimbabwe Music Association chairperson Edith Weutonga said artistes were already feeling the pinch of the current crisis.
“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.
If Delta Beverages does not find its way out of the woods soon enough, perhaps they could end up cutting sponsorship for the different arts projects which they have religiously funded over the years in what spells a blow for the arts fraternity.
In partnership with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Delta Corporation sponsors the Jikinya Dance Festival, Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival and the Chibuku Road to Fame competition as well as television shows like Coke on the Beat and the annual Top 50 video and Top 50 music countdown.
This means that all these arts events are at stake if sponsorship is stopped.
“The struggles for Delta Beverages, which has a near monopoly on beverages in Zimbabwe, poses a big threat to the viability of most entertainment projects and events,” arts critic Plot Mhako told The Standard Style on Friday.
“Bars and other recreational venues will turn into white elephants if the holy waters stop coming or are beyond the reach of many.”
According to Mhako, artistes would suffer most as they “will lose out on business”.
“Events supported by Delta Beverages such as the fastest growing and most consistent monthly concert Unplugged, among others, will likely suffer,” he said, adding that young consumers, especially of alcohol, were likely to resort to illicit intoxicants.
“The youth will resort to illicit and dangerous brews thus having a far-reaching negative impact on the audience and disrupting the entertainment ecosystem.”
True to his sentiments, most beverage prices have gone beyond the reach of many in the country in what could trigger reliance on the cheaper but harmful-to-health alternatives.
Ultimately, there is need for the relevant authorities to ensure that the company stays afloat to avoid a chaotic outcome on the showbiz front.