BY SHARON SIBINDI
BULAWAYO artistes and producers say they will continue producing quality content despite the volatile political and economic environment currently obtaining in the country.
Zimbabwe is beset by a harsh economic and political situation characterised by high inflation and low production, among other ills, stiffening people’s love for arts products.
In addition, the political environment is also hostile towards the arts.
Standard Style explored the plight of artistes in the current political and economic environment in the country which has seen some failing to break even due to low attendancies, venues being expensive and shows bringing little or less profit at the end of the day.
“We have to survive and giving up is not an option. The arts normally thrive when the economy is healthy and people have the extra dollar to spend on entertainment, leisure and culture. Similarly when corporates are doing well on the market they can easily support the arts and culture,” Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube said.
“At the moment everyone from individuals to companies and organisations is running on shoestring budgets and hand-to-mouth survival. That summarises our story in the creative sector. We bear the brunt. We probably suffer the most. We strive on and do what we can. We streamline events and do what we can.”
He said: “Politics is always a hot potato in the arts sector but then nothing is not politics and it depends on how one chooses to approach it.
“Creatives are always going to be social and political commentators. We are lucky to have the support of Culture at Work Africa this year in one of our projects Creative Diversity and Social Inclusion.
Madlela S’khobokhobo said they were surviving by the grace of God.
“In the gloom people still love their entertainment and when we are in their area they come and we ‘de-stress’ them a bit. However, it is not easy, but we soldier on and keep doing events. It’s not easy for people but some still value entertainment a lot,” he said.
“Everyone is trying to survive in this country and I feel sometimes our pricing is not proper, some are now charging a lot, but others are still sober-minded and it is those that we continue cementing relationships with.”
Centre for Innovation and Technology director Zenzele Ndebele said there was little that had changed from the time the late former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was in charge.
“In fact, post 2017 there are more pro-government trolls online and this promotes self-censorship,” he said.
Umkhathi Theatre Works founder Matesu Dube said artistes mostly, depend on the support of people employed in other sectors of the economy who are the consumers of the arts products that they produce.
“The current economic situation makes it difficult for artistes to survive. We can’t stop doing events as this will have a negative impact on the arts scene. We should continue to produce under these difficult times because if we stop doing events, no one knows whether there will be an economic turnaround or not,” he said.
“So, we need to remain visible by doing events. The shows are not profitable to tell you the truth, we do them so as to keep ourselves in the game otherwise people will forget about us. Venues are not affordable, that’s why we are doing a few shows.”
Intwasa Arts Festival director Raisedon Baya said they were doing shows just like any workers across the sectors and it was not easy but doable. Film producer, Percy Soko bemoaned the situation saying people no longer buy their content and ZBC does not pay them.
“I can’t survive in this current situation because most people are no longer buying films and they say it’s a luxury. ZTV has a raw deal, they will tell you straight we don’t have money, look for your sponsors and we share airtime.
“Doing a political film in Zimbabwe is definitely a no because the ruling party has its hidden agendas, there is no freedom of expression. We can’t express ourselves through our art forms, all they want is something that supports them even if it’s wrong, that’s why we will never grow as an industry,” he said.