A government official last week attended a meeting with a few artistes and after the meeting those who attended received some money.
Those who had been invited to the meeting but failed to turn up are also said to have been given something as well.
As news filtered into the sector after the meeting, there was noise as other artistes questioned the gifts to a few individual artistes. So many questions were asked and never answered. However, at some point these questions may need to be answered.
To be honest there is nothing wrong with an individual coming forward and gifting artistes or anyone for that matter with gifts. Nothing wrong at all. But giving money only to those who attended the meeting can be seen in some sections as a form of silencing the few vocal artistes that called the meeting.
Now imagine a workers’ committee going to sit with management and asking for working conditions to improve and coming out of the meeting with their hands full of cash?
How would other workers feel or what would they say? What about those that have no access to the official? Should they just die of hunger because no one will give them hand-outs? What about emerging artistes?
What about rural artistes? And all those who do not live in Harare? Will all these get to meet officials and perhaps walk out of a meeting with them clutching some dollars? What will happen to artistes that will meet another Government official and walk out of the meeting with nothing?
Remember even the Covid-19 Relief Fund distributed by our parent ministry only benefited a handful of artistes. And many artistes are still wondering if they will also benefit from the fund. But the truth is hand-outs are not the solution.
Artistes will take them and be grateful but they are not long term. Hand-outs are not sustainable. They perpetuate the beggar mentality in the arts sector. What the arts sector needs are sustainable support structures.
And it does not need rocket science to say that the sector needs proper systems. Good systems that will prop up the sector and make it a productive sector able to harness and reap the potential wealth the sector can generate.