Bongani Ndlovu/Nqobile Tshili, Showbiz Correspondents
BULAWAYO councillors have agreed to offer organisers of the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) the Large City Hall for free for their ceremony set for June.
This was after BAA organisers sent an application to the City of Bulawayo in January requesting for free use of the venue. The decision was arrived at during a full council meeting last Wednesday following a heated debate over the subject. Councillors had to take it to a vote with those against the free use losing 15 to eight.
Councillors Siboniso Khumalo, Mlandu Ncube, Thobani Ncube strongly advocated for the free use of the hall saying it was critical for the local authority to support local talent. The councillors said Bulawayo was globally recognised because of arts groups such as Iyasa therefore, more up-and-coming artistes needed to be supported as well to keep the city on the world map.
“These are our children trying to make a living. The council is known globally because of some of our artistes who have done well including Iyasa,” said Khumalo.
However, acting mayor Collet Ndlovu among other councillors had been against the idea saying councillors needed to consider operational expenses before making the decision. He was supported by councillors including Cllr Silas Chigora who argued that the decision to offer free use of the City Hall will set a wrong precedence for like minded groups wanting to use the hall.
Nkululeko Nkala said they were grateful for the support they had received from council.
“Although we haven’t got formal communication, we appreciate that our city fathers recognise the importance of the arts. We welcome them into the family of the Bulawayo arts awards. We encourage other people in the city who have influence and are in business to emulate what the City of Bulawayo has done,” Nkala said.
He said preparations for the awards were going on well with artistes submitting their nomination forms.
A May 15 deadline has been set for the entries.
The Bulawayo Arts Awards were launched last month to recognise those who have excelled in the arts within Bulawayo and its surrounding Matabeleland provinces.