Government on Friday approved the partial reopening up of low-risk sectors of the cultural and creative industry, and the move has elicited mixed reactions from players in the sector.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo said players in the identified low-risk sectors seeking to reopen under the relaxed measures would have to apply for permission from the NACZ and they would only be allowed to resume operations if council was satisfied that they were able to adhere strictly to set Covid-19 transmission prevention protocols and the standard operating procedures.
However, while low-risk sectors, including exhibitions in galleries and museums, book launches, film production, training centres-cum-schools of arts, arts and culture centres, visual art studios, music recording studios, drive-in cinemas, studio recording for online publication, theatre houses for drama, dance, movies and spoken word had been cleared to resume their operations, musicians and music promoters feel hard done.
Moyo said the move was meant to cushion players in the arts sector.
"As the sector is celebrating the relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which have seen the cultural and creative industry dormant for the past six months, NACZ would like to encourage players in the sector to take advantage of the relaxation of the lockdown conditions to go back to their creative spaces and engage in serious production for the sector to recover some of the opportunities lost due to the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
He said after successfully lobbying for the sector's reopening, the NACZ implores industry players to put the health of practitioners and consumers of CCI (cultural and creative industry) products at the forefront of their operations to avoid the sector becoming a vector in the transmission of the deadly virus.
"In this regard the NACZ encourages artistes to establish and adhere to the set Covid-19 prevention protocols and standard operating procedures at all times as they reopen their creative spaces," he said.
However, the move has been received with mixed reactions.
"It's a good move for us as we are now able to work freely. It also affords us the time to meet buyers from outside and it is an opportunity for us to re-engage with stakeholders from shipping agents to outside markets," said Shelton Mubayi, an award-winning sculptor based in Chitungwiza.
Veteran actor and director Adrian Musa welcomed the move saying it would allow them to work on the backlog.
"We have a lot of work that needs to be done, thanks to the government. I hope we will be able to catch up," said Musa, who directed the popular Gukurahundi drama, 1983: The Dark Years.
Musa's sentiments were also echoed by arts promoter Benjamin Nyandoro, who, however, encouraged people to observe Covid-19 safe practices.
"We welcome the development. We had been hit hard by both the poorly performing economy and the business constraints that come with the Covid-19 restrictions," Nyandoro said.
"The decision does not, however, take away the reality. The pandemic is still among us. I encourage my fellow promoters to observe Covid-19 safe practices."
Music promoter and businessman David Mudzudzu said the music sector was the most affected, but omitted on those allowed to operate.
"We felt encouraged by what the government has done, but we feel the music sector is hard done. Why not allow us to operate on similar operational guidelines?" Mudzudzu said.
"As music promoters and businesspeople, we feel our liquor businesses will soon die a natural death. Some people's licences will not allow them to open, while there is also need to consider the time of opening these outlets."
Mudzudzu, who runs the Club Joy Centre franchise in Harare with the flagship Club Joy Centre PaFiyo, said it was high time they were allowed to re-open entertainment spaces.
A musician who spoke on condition of anonymity said most musicians were wallowing in abject poverty as a result of Covid-19 regulations.
"For the past six months, I have not been doing shows and that's my livelihood. I think government should reconsider opening up spaces for us just like they are doing for other sectors," the artiste said.
Moyo said the standard operating procedures cover issues to do with sanitisation at the entry and exit points, temperature checks, wearing of face masks and shields by patrons and staff, registration of all attendees for particular events, social distancing in set-up and activities, sanitisation of physical objects/equipment within arts spaces, and fumigation of premises before and after usage.
He said the NACZ was seized with the task of ensuring and monitoring that the reopening of cultural and creative industry spaces adhere to the set standard operating procedures.