Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Reporter
The Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA), Bulawayo’s premier awards show has come and gone, leaving many lasting memories among many.
With a struggling economy, event organisers braved it and staged the event that has been held for the past three years to celebrate arts excellence in the city.
As the event is growing rapidly and putting the city’s talent on the map, it is gaining more attention nationally and even regionally and as such, organisers must now strive to make it as flawless as possible if they are to make a mark.
Below are a few notes and suggestions for organisers as they prepare to host next year’s edition.
For some, the scheduling of the awards, held in winter, was inconvenient.
This is because it proved difficult for many to look their best under the frosty conditions leading to many men settling for uncreative polo necks and women freezing all in the name of fashion.
Even the cumbersome venue, ZITF Hall 4 became a fridge for some who felt the chill of winter.
As such, most suggested that the RoilBAAs be held during summer (between September and October) or way before winter (February or March).
Away from the scheduling of the awards, time keeping at the awards ceremony was very poor.
With the red carpet event having begun at about 5PM, the ceremony that was supposed to start at 7.30PM ended up starting at 9PM.
Organisers should understand that the ceremony, a family event, does not only attract adults but also dignitaries and school going children who certainly cannot be up till 2AM.
The event is growing, soon channels like ZBC or even Trace may want to beam the event live therefore organisers must start adjusting their time in preparation for this day.
Also, they must consider that award winners need to be given time to celebrate after the event that is why it must end by midnight at least.
Generally, the awards production should be short and sweet (two to three hours maximum).
Organisers must be commended for the tight security that was at the ceremony, especially for vehicles that were parked outside the Exhibition Centre.
Driving to events nowadays is risky as there are always cases of people smashing windows and stealing valuables but this wasn’t the case at the RoilBAAs.
Security details who frequently patrolled around the venue were on high alert and willing to assist people get parking.
Inside the venue, security ensured those who bought general tickets did not invade the VIP/VVIP as they were also on high alert.
At most events accessing the venue is usually a hassle because of the pressure at the entrance points but at the RoilBAAs, it was smooth sailing.
There were not too many people loitering outside which made one feel safe.
Also, the ticketing system was very efficient as all one had to do is buy their ticket and get the rightful tag once inside the venue.
From there, one would head straight to the red carpet.
In the venue, one was met by many ushers, whom upon seeing one’s tag, would direct you to your rightful section (General/VIP/VVIP).
RED CARPET/FASHION POLICE
Aptly put, the red carpet was a deal breaker as it lacked pizzazz.
This, for many awards shows, is the highlight of the event so a lot of attention must be put here.
The red carpet was disorderly and had a few backdrops which were uninspiring as they were too few and a bit short.
Effort was, however, put on the fashion police’s corner as there were couches and it was decorated well.
Generally, it looked cosy and classy and was very intimidating for those who were not dressed for the occasion.
Another error was the fashion police, some whose choice of dress left a lot to be desired leaving some questioning “who fashioned the fashion police?”
In the VVIP section, there was confusion with regards to tables and seating arrangements.
When one purchased a ticket, they were given a table number which ideally, guests must have adhered to.
However, come awards night this did not happen as people sat willy-nilly showing that ushers slept on the job.
Some who had bought tables, ended up sitting separately which was a major setback. Even the food, when one ordered, took ages to be served.
They were nervous at first especially first timer, Samantha Tshuma.
She did not settle down and missed lines at the beginning of the show. It was co-presenters Nceku and Lorraine Sibanda-Khumalo who saved the day as they played it safe the whole night.
The lighting on stage was simply amazing although organisers may want to consider putting light where guests will be seated as people love being seen, especially when they are wearing fancy outfits.
After all, there is only one “dress up” event in Bulawayo so yes, let them show off and not make them feel like they are in some nightclub.
The sound was not that good for those who were watching the ceremony live at the venue.
At some points, it was muffled and had echoes, making it difficult for people to hear speeches by winners and songs that were being performed.
Bulawayo is the country’s arts hub and this was shown at the RoilBAAs where the artistes put their differences aside and teamed up for worldclass performances.
One felt proud to be from Bulawayo as the entertainment was top notch.
From gospel, soul, jazz to hip hop, house/kwaito and Zimdancehall, the city has it all.
It is commendable that the organisers fused each and every artistes’ performance through an ensemble-like piece. This is where people like Tebza, Thandy Dhlana, Ashleigh Manyakaidze, MJ Sings and Ex Mile shone on stage.
However, the masterstroke was the resident choir, Vocal Ex, that provided backing vocals for the musicians.
They traversed effortlessly through genres such as Maskandi when they sang with Zinjaziyamluma, hip hop with Cal_Vin, gospel with Knowledge Nkiwane and house music with Novuyo Seagirl.
The addition of a live band to back most of the groups was also a great thing.
Generally, organisers, who were seen running around the whole night, gave it their best and like one of their chief organisers Raisedon Baya said, this is not the best organised event, but it is one to be proud of.
Given continuous support, it can grow and surpass the National Arts Merit Awards whose mission is the same as the RoilBAAs.