13 February 2013

Tanzania: Arts Council Points to Importance of Research

SCRIPT writers need to conduct research, relating to what they want to put down in their stories, beforehand. The same principal should also be adopted by musicians, painters, sculptors and all local artistes, as general practice.

Further, this exercise should always be conducted before getting down to writing, according to the National Arts Council, BASATA. In fact, the Arts Council feels so strongly about this factor being often neglected, that they made it the topic for discussion, at last Monday's Jukwa la Sanaa (Arts Stage), there.

BASATA Director of Research, Training and Information, Godfrey Mngereza, explained to stakeholders present on Monday that this is the crucial missing factor towards making local artistic productions more authentic, unique and of higher demand. "Research in the arts' sector is very important.

Artistes themselves need to go through researches to know what is happening because from researchedbased information they can produce anything. No one can get the facts without research," he maintains. In higher learning institutions there are records of previously conducted research, but according to Mngereza, these findings are not accessible to other members of the society.

They, he maintains, are more or less available to academics. That is why there is a need to have a link between the researchers, at the higher learning institutions and the people on the field, who also have important need of these researched-based findings.

For an example, he referred to no one having the ability to write a story about the Masaai people, without going through some research concerning members of this ethnic group's life. It is after this that a script writer can come back and get down to the real business at hand properly equipped.

This is why the Arts Council maintains that the director on a film-set needs to know the characters in the particular production in-hand thoroughly. There is need to know each one's profile, historical background and status. All of this can be found from conducting a research.

Selecting the best location for shooting is also based on research. When something is not research-based, he said, the artistes have no other choice but to produce "copy and paste" works. When you look at most locally- made movies, according to Mngereza, you cannot see "a real Tanzanian movie" but something that is like copying and pasting a Nigerian one.

Or when you listen to music from here, they are just often copy and paste. Rather than taking their time to listen to music from outside of the country and then make something that maintains a local identity. "We fail to get real Tanzanian movies because they're not researched-based. The same method of operation applies to musicians and artistes across the range of the art forms, which can be seen from the local products being produced," he said.

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