Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Local Bodies Move to Bring Art On Stage

SEEING that the local Performing Arts is gradually becoming something of the past, certain local bodies have started to take reciprocal actions. One such group is the Performing Arts Federation.

Their President, Agnes Lukanga, made this statement at Monday's 'Jukwaa la Sanaa,' at the Arts Council (BASATA) in Dar es Salaam.She told those present that at a time before, there were halls where residents could go and look at groups like Kibisa, Mandela Theatre and TOT perform. But according to her, these are rapidly dying out.

This, she maintains, was not the situation only in Dar es Salaam, for in the past such events were common in up-country regions. There were various local events and places where residents could go and watch things like 'ngoma,' acrobats, mime and other performing art forms. This is not the case today, for they have become a rarity.

Nowadays there are various small groups preparing their acts but lack suitable venues to show them. This is one of the major problems facing performing artistes these days.

"It is because of this lack of space that when the state-of-the-arts theatre was being built at the National Museum and House of Culture in the City Centre, local artistes were very happy and optimistic that they would have somewhere to perform their art. However, the reality turned out to be very different than we had expected," Lukanga stated.

"By the time the work there was over it was advertised that the hiring price was 2m/-. Our local artistes cannot be expected to put on a show and be able to get the people, who we at the federation are trying to sensitise about paying to watch a show, to forfeit a suitable entrance fee for these artistes to be able to pay 2m/- rental charge for the venue," Lukanga.

This is why, she said they at the federation are calling on the government to provide a place where local artistes can put on their show for an affordable entrance fee. This would even bring an income for the government and would be a support to the current step to officialise the arts. In a talk with the 'Daily News' after her presentation, Lukanga explained that this should be done in the regions with an emphasis on the districts, divisions and even wards level.

Such facilities are quite common in neighbouring countries, where there is also a national performing arts theatre. According to her, such a culture has not been built as yet here, but she maintains it is not too late to start working on it. The federation is taking action towards having places where someone can go out to watch local performing arts without having to enter a bar, as it is today. For this to happen she says artistes in federations, like hers have to keep on pushing the government towards providing performance venues.

As a group the Performing Arts Federation have prepared a draft stating the requirements, which forms the basis for discussions with stakeholders to come to a conclusion as to what they have to do to make sure the performing arts return to the people. This, she acknowledged, would require for artistes to be united in action and voice, from the villages to the cities behind the understanding that art is a livelihood and not just something providing a free service.

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