Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) is advocating a partial reopening of the arts sector to cushion artistes, some of whom are now reportedly staging shows in contravention of health guidelines meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.
According to the lockdown and Covid-19 regulations, all public events have been banned and gatherings should be not more than 100 people for private functions, with a curfew starting at 8pm.
In an interview with The Herald Arts, NACZ director Nicholas Moyo said they had been having a series of meetings with relevant authorities discussing the partial opening of the arts sector.
“The most of all legal provisions, SI200 of 2020, guides us as a sector on what needs to be done,” he said. “Public functions of arts are banned. Anyone found performing will be in breach of the law. We have been engaging different stakeholders and organisations, educating them on what needs to be done.
“We encourage people to be patient. If it is a private function, it is fine considering they are respecting and observing the Covid-19 regulations. Let it be clear that for all private functions, people should not be paying. Would you let your family members pay for your birthday or anniversary or wedding?”
Mr Moyo said they hoped the issue would be discussed in Cabinet anytime soon.
“We have engaged promoters, some artistes and organisations, discussing the way forward,” he said.
“If we partially open, they need to understand and educate others on the Covid-19 regulations. The virus is still there and we should not be relaxed, but at the same time, we have noticed that artists are still struggling to sustain their livelihoods.
“We have taken the matter higher up asking if the sector will be partially opened and we hope it will be tabled soon.
“We can’t say when, but like I said, may we all be patient and avoid breaching the law.”
Moyo said they had been informed of some illegal events which were taking place and police reports were made.
At present, artistes have been surviving through virtual platforms where they were hosting shows.
Those who are lucky enough will get bookings to entertain a handful at a private function.
Afro-jazz musician Progress Chipfumo over the weekend performed at Extra Mile for a private function.
“Yes, this is a difficult time for us but we have to find creative ways to survive as the stage is our life,” he said. “I have been performing at private functions before limited numbers of up to 80 people.
“The functions are good because they are not only helping us to survive, but keeping our music alive. You end up being forgotten and become irrelevant in the industry.”
Chipfumo said during the lockdown he managed to shoot two musical videos and had ample time in the studio.
Another musician, Andy Muridzo, who was at Jazz 105 on Saturday night, said he was playing at a birthday party.
“Muridzo was booked to perform for 30 people at Jazz 105,” Muridzo’s manager Onisimo Saini said.
“It was one of our musical promoters called Itai. He only had his family members and close friends.”