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That promote the diversity of cultural expressions
National Policies
To ensure that Zimbabwe provides the best possible business, regulatory, technical and fiscal infrastructure to enable Zimbabwe’s creative businesses to flourish commercially and to increase overseas investment and trade in Zimbabwe’s creative industries.


Elton Sibanda, a 2014 School Playwrights and Actors Academy (SPAA) graduate, won the best director award for his play, Burning Ulcer, at the just ended Intwasa Arts Festival’s Plan High Schools Drama Competition.Awards for Burning Ulcer at Intwasa also include best production, best male cameo role and best actor. It was a humbling victory because the competition was stiff.Elton Sibanda The Intwasa accolades comes after Elton also won the best director, best production, best costumes, best actor, best supporting actor and best cameo role awards at the Youth Cultural Arts Festival (YOCAF) held in Masvingo last August.Burning Ulcer is a play about a 20 year old man who wishes to study and make a career in the arts. Being a child from a family of doctors he has a hard time convincing them to allow him to pursue his dream but, against all odds, he manages to study film and theatre studies and become successful.The play is acted by Gifford High School drama club. Burning Ulcer is due to be performed at the National Association of School Heads (NASH) final competitions to be held in Masvingo on 30 September.
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Can unions or artists’ guilds not serve and protect an embattled local creative economy? With musicians typically operating without record labels and book publishing industry literacy decimated, for example, unions might take some of the risk and sting out of the quagmire state of our cultural and creative industries. Recent Supreme Court rulings, which triggered a wave of massive job cuts in the public and private sectors, reignited conversations with creative civil society on the need for the establishment of an Artists’ Union in Zimbabwe. Unions often set wage standards across a field, even for people who don’t belong to them; uncounted artists, writers and musicians can pursue their craft because their spouses have union-protected jobs such as teachers, nurses and police. The present day economic downturn is reminiscent of the 2008 upheaval in terms of the overall morass of poverty, unemployment and hyper-inflation, yet key differences separate the two eras. 2008 was a time of massive organising, strikes, union activity, and dissent. 2015 does not provide us with such inspiring levels of dissent and activism. If the period preceding 2008 can teach us one key lesson, it is the need to organise. Nothing changes when people do not engage in the long and difficult work of building a diverse, multistakeholder, working class movement from the ground up. This includes artists. While the mainstream labour movement represented by Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) are lobbying against the recent Supreme Court rulings, the creative civil society voice is conspicuously absent, mainly because artists in Zimbabwe have no collective voice in the form of a trade union to represent them at work and to lobby and advocate on their behalf. A trade union is needed to represent artists at strategic decision-making levels and positively influence the value and role artists play within society. Artists as workers need a unique, sustainable and supportive infrastructure, which is built by its members for its members. Such a union would challenge the economic inequalities in the cultural and creative industries by working together to negotiate fair pay and better working conditions for artists, as well as promote models for good practice. The need for fair remuneration for artists’ labour, which should translate to a wage comparable to other professionals, cannot be overstated, as fair and transparent payment for artists is not only ethically desirable, but vital for a sustainable and vibrant local creative economy.
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By Raisedon Baya This year the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust distributed over $1 million dollars to local arts projects under what they call the Culture Impacts Programme. One million dollars is a lot of money in any part of the world. One million dollars in Zimbabwe surely has to have a serious impact not only on local artists’ lives but also on Zimbabwe’s cultural and artistic landscape. And so we wait, with bated breath, to see the impact of the winning projects on our lives and Zimbabwe’s cultural landscape. According to Culture Fund there were more than 500 applications for the Culture Impacts programme and only forty one projects were successful. Honestly speaking most of the grantees on the list are credible individuals and organizations who have footprints that can be traced for years. It is only the obvious imbalance in terms of regional representation that is cause for concern. Looking at the list of winning projects it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps the change of focus by Culture Fund towards transformative art could actually be the beginning of the death of art for arts’ sake. For several years now the Culture Fund has been the hope of many artists who saw a career in the arts – artists who are interested in creating art but not necessarily art to change the world. The emphasis now on issues instead of art will result in many artists being thrown out of the wagon and many arts and culture organizations turning themselves into civil society organizations. To be honest Culture Fund was probably one of the very few, if not the only funding body that seemed to understand the need to support art in all its forms and for all its purposes. With focus on art as a means or “medium for stimulating development” and emphasis on results and impacts it surely means starvation or imminent DEATH particularly for artists and institutions that were more interested in art for art’s sake. In that regard I foresee imminent death for many festivals and other platforms for cultural celebrations. As I write I doubt very much if Shangano Arts Festival in Hwange will take place this year. I see the same fate for Rainbow Arts Festival in Gwanda, Midlands Arts Festival, Hurungwe Arts Festival and others. Going through the list again one cannot ignore the fact that, like in previous Culture Fund disbursements, Harare ran away with the larger chunk of the purse. Out of a total of 41 successful projects Harare had more than 26 projects. That is almost 65% of the grantees. In terms of money the capital city got more than $700 000 of the $1 million dollars disbursed. Does this high success rate mean Harare people are good at writing winning proposals? Or does it mean Harare is the only province that responded well to the Culture Impacts call for proposals? Successful projects from Bulawayo were five and this translated to about 12% of the grantees. In terms of the money Bulawayo got about $67 000 – almost ten times less than Harare. Other provinces got very little or nothing at all. Without being emotional about it let us just stop to think about how many jobs $700 000 will create in Harare. Let us also think about overall impact of the project on Harare and its communities. Now compare that with other provinces? It is also unfortunate, not for Harare though, that outside Culture Fund the capital city continues to have this advantage. Harare artists and cultural workers dine and do breakfast meetings with embassies and other funding agencies on daily basis. Harare artists and their organizations on a first name basis with those that make funding decisions. The same Harare artists and cultural workers are much closer to corporate decision makers who consistently fund their projects. Let us not forget that most corporates have their headquarters in the capital city. And so for artists and cultural workers that live and work outside Harare their best hope for funding has been and continues to be The Culture Fund Trust of Zimbabwe because the trust is known more for trying to reach out to those corners of the country that most funding agencies tend to pay lip service. Raisedon Baya is a local playwright and cultural activist. He writes in his own capacity.
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