Increasing co-operation between the corporate world and the arts industry in Zimbabwe is well documented and recommended, but some critics say more could be done as the arts industry contributes to the growth of the business sector.
A number of organisations have realised this benefit and have sponsored arts events such as the Harare Inter-national Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Benefits for the corporate world may not be that tangible, but the organisations could support the arts as part of their social responsibility. Although long-term, should provide a positive impact that will put the companies to good light.
Last weekend, Delta Beverages was one of the major sponsors of the 2012 Winter Jazz Festival at Harare's Jazz 105 through their Castle Milk Stout brand. The company says it believes in giving back to the community as most of its products go well with the performing arts industry.
Delta has supported major arts events such as HIFA, Chibuku Dance Festival, Chibuku Road to Fame and the Lion Lager Music Festival, among others. It would be safe to suggest that Delta has, by far, been one of the best supporters of the local arts industry for many years. A number of companies have followed suit.
This week, local poet, Albert Nyathi, said he has clinched sponsorship from TN Bank to publish his latest book 'My Daughter', that was launched at this year's Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare. An obviously elated Nyathi told The Financial Gazette Weekend that this has been one of his greatest achievements with any local corporation so far as he extended his appreciations to the sponsors of his new project.
"This is what should be happening, I see it all over the world and there is no reason why it not be happening here in Zimbabwe. I am thankful to TN Bank for not thinking within the box. For me it's amazing how a financial institution in Zimbabwe could find it so worthwhile to sponsor a book such as this one," Nyathi said.
Recently the Grain Marketing Board teamed up with Theatre in the Park to market their products and to sponsor the running of the winter season.
Well known theatre playwright and arts administrator, Stephen Chifunyise believes the arts industry has contributed significantly to the growth of the corporate sector, hence therefore, a harmonious co-existence between the two entities should prevail.
He said Zimbabwean art, music and culture has been exported to other countries through such musicians as Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso Maraire, Thomas Mapfumo and a host of others from different arts genres.
However, Chifunyise said this phenomenal growth has not been matched with a clear national action plan in terms of expanding the contribution of the arts sector to the economy as well as the expansion of infrastructure and venues used by the artists.
"In spite of the huge numbers of people that attend music shows we still see that most of the infrastructure has not improved, for example, there has not been much investment on the Harare Gardens by the City of Harare as well as the Harare Inter-national Conference Centre and the Borrowdale Race-course," Chifunyise said.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) acknowledged the increased cooperation between the arts and the corporate world. The NACZ assistant director, Audrey Charamba-Chihota said the corporate world must view artists not as "basket cases" but as strategic partners.
"As council, we are saying gone are the days when artists should perform for a plate of sadza. The artists should agree with the corporate sector on reasonable fee structures for their work. There should be a multi-pronged approach to this engagement where both parties can benefit and there should be a change in perceptions about art and the artists," said Charamba-Chihota.