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Covid-19 takes toll on Byo arts

By Sindiso Dube

Most of the entertainment calendar in Bulawayo and surrounding areas has been put on hold after the outbreak of the coronavirus. Artistes were forced to cancel their projects in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The National Arts Gallery Bulawayo closed its doors due to the pandemic and this has in turn affected artistes, who had slated gigs at the venue.

Musician Qeqeshiwe Mntambo’s solo show, which was slated for March 25 at the Gallery was cancelled, with the singer expressing disappointment.

“I have been preparing for this ultimate night where I wanted to share with my fans music from my heart and it’s a sad development that I have to cancel the gig, but after all this is done we shall advise on the new dates,” Mntambo said.

“These are natural causes, which no one has control over, we have to do what’s necessary to reduce the spread of the virus by avoiding gatherings and as artistes we should shift focus and educate the masses on the dangers and also how to curb the epidemic.”

Bulawayo’s first all-female fete, Loziba Festival, which was meant to uplift young female artistes was also cancelled.

Organised by Youth Innovation Trust (YIT), the fete themed, Bulawayo in Solidarity with young women in art was scheduled to take place from March 27 to 29 in Bulawayo.

Named after Queen Loziba, senior queen and King Mzilikazi’s wife in the Ndebele Kingdom, the festival was supposed to hold a mentorship programme, fashion designers’ showcase, wheel-spinners contest, dance competition, poetry and comedy.

“We had no option but to cancel the festival. We realised that we cannot achieve SDG 5 (Gender Equality) when SDG3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) is under threat.

We’ll announce the next festival dates in due course,” said YIT managing director Thando Gwinji.

Madlela Skhobokhobo (pictured), who was set to launch his new album at the Phoniex in Gwanda on April 4, has cancelled the launch with indications that he would hold an online launch.

Arts development organisation Nhimbe Trust said the suspension of operations by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and other arts agencies would have a crippling effect on cultural and creative industries.

“In the spirit of embracing the entire value chain of cultural and creative industry digitisation, we call on government to extend support to these key institutions, however minimal given current resource constraints, to ensure that they remain accessible and available to render any support that may be reasonable within the scope of precautionary measures that have been operationalised,” Nhimbe Trust said in a statement.

The trust said the Covid-19 pandemic had created an environment of extreme uncertainty for the arts and culture sector, having implications on the economic status of artistes and cultural professions, particularly with regard to compromising initiatives and programming intended at championing sustainable livelihoods.

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