IN what ostensibly should have been a conventional feature, the National Arts Council (NAC) held an arts consultative workshop at Mika Convention Centre in Chongwe, Lusaka Province – generally described as a mixture of success and failure; an event that should recurrently be organised in order to match up with the present times.
The idea for this workshop according to NAC director Adrian Chipindi, the advice-giving workshop was to refocus and address the emerging issues of what is generally seen as strategic planning for the period 2016 – 2021. Essentially, as most artistes in Zambia know today, NAC is a vital cog in the development of the creative industry – a presumed link between Government, arts associations and the artistes.
Though unattainable, every artiste should have found an arts association to belong to, but in a plural and individual choice and liberalised economy as Victor Makashi put it, one artiste can be forced to alien with an association!
Strangely, this is where one of the problems begins, and comes from, a dilemma for all the arts associations; NATAAZ, ZAM, ZAFODAMUS, ZAPOTA and others!
Unassumingly, I admit, attending this workshop last week was inadvertently informative, and the 80-plus participants most of whom found it valuably of use; even though summarily there was much more we all needed to wake up to; advance information preferably on papers to refer to from the last time NAC drew up a plan to date – this was unavailable; the bench mark could not visibly be made; ever since NAC was established, has it not performed well? What have been the bottlenecks in running NAC? Has NAC spread wide and playing a levelled and useful role in districts and provinces? Are artistes benefiting from the establishment of NAC? These and many more were the questions that loudly needed clear responses to, but were not answered because the resolution was, NAC is made of artists, and vice versa!
Some artistes spoke to bemoaned why NAC had to organise such a high class workshop, when indeed their pockets were outwardly empty; film maker Jonas Mumba from Luanshya was disturbed saying his mere transport refund was callous. With NAC’s motto “Putting Value on the Arts”, Jonas said the workshop was a mockery particularly for artists who were full time like him.
Musical icon Daputsa Zulu alias Sister D told me, “I don’t think this can be described as a wholesomely successful workshop, the organisers have not linked it from the past to today!”
Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN) Zambia chapter president Nicholas Kawinga said the workshop was meaningfully triumphant as it brought artists together to consult on the way forward.
Vilole director Catharine Kaseketi giving a vote of thanks described the workshop as effectively useful as a starting point following a lapse on NAC’s uncertainty in view of the forthcoming Arts Commission. She said it was enriching that a workshop to recall and plan ahead was called by NAC, hence artistes were to blame if their industry did not blossom.
Rev Buster Tembo, who is vice-president of the Zambia Adjudicators Panel, and is based in Livingstone, said there was need for the Ministry of Education to have participated in the workshop – the ministry was visibly not present, yet its role was bigger than any other line ministry in running NAC.
Essentially, according to NAC director Adrian Chipindi, the workshop was simply consultative in the way forward in seeing how a strategic plan can be worked on for the period 2016 – 2021.
Primarily, the workshop began with NAC chairperson of the Human Resource Committee Winner Kanyembo outlining the strategic planning process the Council was embarking upon. He set the context for the meeting as one of stakeholder consultation and not for airing grievances. He introduced the consultant from the Management development division of Cabinet office Tobias Chomba, who is a management analyst.
When participants were requested to give their expectations, the following were summed up as commonly salient outlines;
•A strategic plan that will enable Zambia as a nation to promote arts and culture and create wealth and employment.
•A strategic plan that will advocate for arts education from primary to tertiary levels.
• A strategic plan that will be fully implemented and not only on paper and should stand the test of time.
Notable at the workshop was Ambassador from the Republic of France, Emmanuel Cobet, and briefly intimated that his country valued cultural diplomacy saying he was in regular consultation with NAC on issues relating to the arts. The Ambassador was also pleased that there have been collaborations with Zambian artists through the Alliance Francaise.
Earlier, ahead of the guest of honour Monde Gwaba, acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, NAC chairperson Mulenga Kapwepwe emphasised and catalogued the need for artistes to seriously consider art as an industry. She urged the participants to ensure the inclusion of the following in the strategic plan;
• Arts advocacy
• Budgets for funding for the artists
• Creating an effective communicative chain
• Monitoring and Evaluation
Then Ms Gwaba explained that her Ministry of Tourism and Arts was fashioned to strengthen arts management and coordination. She highlighted the significance of strategic positioning of NAC, the need for engaging with various stakeholders whose deliberations should focus on the creative arts and the country as potential for job creation and economic solutions.
Ms Gwaba said Zambian artists should ensure; the aspect of the arts as a tourism product, and that it comes out prominently. She said the artistes’ plan should relate to the Ministry of Tourism and Arts and those artists should be strategic when it comes to sector based interventions.
The NAC director summarily gave a brief background of NAC describing its Act No 31, 1994 of the Laws of Zambia structure, functions and mandate saying it was inadequate. Victor Makashi, director – Arts and Culture at the Ministry of Tourism and Arts similarly gave a brief history of the Department, its functions and its relationship with the Council as a statutory body. He hoped that the sector would be able to speak with one voice through the strategic plan, and grow financially and artically.
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