Zimbabwe: Minister Allays Artistes' Fears

22 September 2020

Artistes are concerned about how the $10 million Covid-19 relief fund to help them is being distributed, but Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry told them yesterday that the Government had put up structures to ensure fairness.

She was visiting the Mufakose Youth Centre where she met artistes who brought up their concerns.

Minister Coventry was accompanied by Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo and other Government officials.

"I have an open door policy and I am more than welcome for any suggestion and solutions which will help in this relief fund project. I am happy that artistes are sharing their grievances. I will also take it to provincial level who will then liaise with their district offices to understand what has been going on.

"We are happy to hear about the numbers of those who have so far applied and the challenges some are facing in the process," she said.

Nearly 2 000 artistes, 60 associations, 10 arts related institutions and about 7 000 individuals have since applied for the relief. But most applications were turned down since the artistes were not formerly registered with National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.

During the meeting artistes cited few platforms where they could showcase their work and lack of exposure to explore their opportunities. They requested fair distribution of infrastructure and facilities between sports and arts.

Besides asking for more resources and efficient distribution of the Covid-19 relief fund artistes cited lack of communication channels between authorities and the artistes.

From Prof Ncube, they want tax exemptions when they import equipment, including instruments.

In her response, Minister Coventry said an arts development fund was put in place by the Government to assist artistes.

"We are working on principles that govern this and we have since announced the artistes development fund. We have set up a task-force which is revisiting all the guidelines and requirements which were put in place. We are very appreciative of the work done so far.

"We have been learning and finding ways not only about funding, but also supporting artistes" she said.

Minister Coventry said that the team will be touring around the country meeting authorities, who would then present reports on projects on the ground that need funding.

"We are happy that some are building and renovating their centres which will help in identifying and nurturing talents. We are also creating databases which will help us identify the artistes," she said.

Batsiranai Traditional Dance group was among the entertainers at the meeting.

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