DESPITE not having sold even one painting since last Wednesday evening's opening, participants of the ongoing arts and crafts exhibition, at the National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam, remain optimistic.
Their hope was encouraged when their request, to the museum for an extension of days was granted. This is why the exhibition, which is being organised by the Tanzania Federation of Arts and Crafts, with assistance from the Arts Council (BASATA), did not close last Friday evening, as originally scheduled.
"We had requested the museum, through their Acting Director, Mawazo Ramadhani, to consider our plight, bearing in mind we were only able to hire the hall for three days. Then on Thursday evening we received an official answer saying we've been given a seven-day extension, completely free of any charge.
For the three days we had originally hired the space, we were granted a reduction of 50 per cent of the fees, which was 250,000/- a day," the Federation's President Adrian Nyangamalle told the 'Sunday News' on Friday evening, when he was asked why the event had not closed then. Up to that evening, all they had sold was some small artefacts, which cost 1,000/- each.
This he credited to the lack of advertising the exhibition had been given prior to its opening, due to a shortage of funds on their part. However, he assured the 'Sunday News' that in view of the extension that has now been granted by the museum, all of their members have agreed to scrape-up what they can, so that they take advantage of the "new life" and put out some promotion in the form of posters and banners.
Nyangamalle maintained that his members are still hopeful that once people know about the exhibition, which carries the title, "Decorate Tanzania With Tanzanian Art", some will come to see the exhibits and even buy paintings and other art works, such as sculptures.
He refuses to accept that the 90 paintings, together with a variety of artefacts in the other forms of the visual art, will be left there unsold, after word has gone out of the event and its purpose. However, with regards to this undesired situation of poor sales, the Federation's Secretary General, Godfrey Ndimbo, admitted yesterday that it hurts him a little to see the first four days have gone by in the way they have.
He is finding it difficult for him to ignore the fact, which he has observed time and again, which locals have not displayed an interest in local art. Instead, he says, they have shown a love for foreign products, be it furniture, clothing or paintings. "Our people like things that come from outside.
This hampers our country's growth. And what's worst, these foreign things that they buy don't last long. They are forgetting that right here we have things to be proud of, just like they have theirs. Right now if we are not careful, with this era of globalisation our country will be swallowed up with foreign things and we'll not be able to take these out at a later date, when we have realised the mistake.
So it's best to start early now, to fight for ours to get into their countries rather than it being the other way round," Ndimbo explained. When approached for a comment the museum's acting director told the 'Sunday News' as a national institution they wanted to make a further contribution to the cause of the Federation so thought it fitting to give them an extension of days to use the space free of charge.
The alternative would be they would close without having achieved anything towards their goals, which he believes, would be a loss to the entire nation.