Hifa retains its glory

Part of the crowd at the just ended HIFA

Part of the crowd at last year’s HIFA

Beginning today the capital Harare will become the focal point of arts and culture with the grand opening of the 16th edition of the Harare International Festival of the Arts which runs until May 3.

Like in all previous editions, Hifa gives an impetus or a boost to local tourism as the world converges in the capital to consume cultural products and its diversity for a good six days all under the theme: ”Articulate”.

According to Maria Wilson, the executive director of Hifa, Harare needs an injection like the one it gets from Hifa.

“It is not political but a celebration of our artists, our diversity and everything Zimbabwean,” She said.

And judging from last year’s statistics, Hifa 2015 is likely to boost local tourism as all roads lead to Harare for the showcase.

Only last year, a total of 65 733 tickets were issued out while 33 nationalities attended the six-day showcase.

Added to this, 300 orphans and vulnerable children were brought to Hifa during the week while 1 006 Zimbabwean performing artists took part in Hifa 2014. Indications are that the number has increased this year as local artists collaborate with foreign artists.

On the one hand, 239 visiting artists attended last year’s showcase and a further 1245 artists participated in the fete.

On the other hand, there were 20 collaborations while the total number of outreach programmes (free shows performed outside the festival sites) were 21.

Already, this number shows the potential growth of the festival depending on what sort of programme each Hifa brings.

Last year’s performances totalled 199 and again Hifa 2015 promises to be much more than that considering the partnerships with other organizations such as Assitej which will hold a mini fest focusing on children on the sidelines of Hifa.

Over and above the performances, Hifa 2014 employed people (on site, general, technical hands and others) who numbered 1200.

A total of 65 students were trained and employed at Hifa 2014.

Given the magnitude of the festival it is almost that there growth each year as organisers develop new partnerships and concepts that allow for expansion.

There is also the issue of community programmes whereby the festival not only develop the infrastructure but also seeks to change the lives of many through empowerment programmes.