The arts are a business, says VP Mphoko

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko - Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko – Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

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Culture Week celebrations ended yesterday with a call by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko to treat arts and culture as a viable source of income.

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At the national launch of Culture Week at Nemakonde High School in Chinhoyi last weekend, VP Mphoko said Government was confident that with support, the arts sector would become an important pillar in the country’s economic turnaround as envisaged in the country’s economic blueprint, ZimAsset.

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The economic blueprint promotes value addition and beneficiation for poverty eradication through promoting entrepreneurship in arts and culture.

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There was general consensus during the seven-day celebrations that culture plays an important role in national economies. And a call for Zimbabweans in general and artistes in particular to regard the culture sector as having immense potential to contribute to livelihoods was made.

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Thus, VP Mphoko, who came appropriately dressed for the launch, pointed out that there is no nation in the world that has developed economically without a developed cultural outlook.

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He said that the arts and culture should be regarded critically as a profession contributing to GDP and required unconditional support from Government first before private sector investors even came on board.

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“I am reliably informed that the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture are lobbying the Parliament of Zimbabwe in order to increase the budget allocation for the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe in particular and, arts and culture in general. We should not derive joy as a country in celebrating arts and culture that is invested in by other people but by Zimbabwe through its Government,” said VP Mphoko.

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He said Government was happy with private sector support for the arts – but added that such support should be sincere rather than exploitative.

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Cultural entrepreneurship, which denotes the generation of revenue through cultural activities, he said, must be promoted.

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“As Government, we urge the public, corporate sector and all to support artistes in various ways that include consumption of their products through payment. Let us desist from the tendency of manipulating artistes only for personal gains without them getting rewards for their artistry which we admire from time to time,” said VP Mphoko.

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“I call upon the private sector to continue to invest in the arts and culture. The idea is to ensure that the sector does not remain a vehicle for others to build their wealth, but that members of the sector, through their varied artistic skills, are able to improve livelihoods across the board.”

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The VP said cultural celebrations were a key vehicle for economic development. And in celebrating culture the nation was encouraged to also contextualise this with Africa Day and the broader continental heritage.

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Culture Week ran from May 16 to 23 under the theme “Celebrating Arts and Cultural Entrepreneurship”.

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Some of the activities to mark Culture Week included street marches, fashion shows, music and dance performances, art and craft exhibitions and herbal medicine expos. And celebrations continue tomorrow as Zimbabwe again joins the continent in celebrating Africa Day. May 25 is all about celebrating African Unity through the arts and crafts, dance, poetry and music.