By Andrew Mulenga
Seasoned critic and contemporary Zambian art historian, Roy Kausa, has called on the new government to place support of the arts under the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism rather than the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs.
|Art critic Roy Kausa is also condemned the |
rebranding of the Zambia tourism logo and slogan
Kausa also argues that disunity, modest education and a general lack of seriousness within the ranks of the arts fraternity has been detrimental to the advancement of the arts since Zambia's independence.
"Let me amplify on this one, first of all let me say for the past 47 years, Zambian artists have not been sincere with themselves, sincere in the sense that we are probably the only country in the sub-region without proper academic education in the arts and lack of serious recognition from government," he said, also highlighting what he observed as anomalies within the creative and tourism sectors early this year.
Early this year Congolese Rhumba star Fally Ipupa performed at Lusaka’s Taj Pamodzi Hotel to launch the new ZTB brand under the slogan ‘Zambia: Let’s Explore’, much to the displeasure of local artists, prominent among them Maiko Zulu, Chairman of Zambia Association of Musicians (ZAM) who expressed great disappointment by ZTB’s decision to sideline Zambian artistes.
Ironically, as much as the likes of Kausa, Zulu and local artistes at large may show disappointment at ZTB's invitation of a Congolese artist to 'rebrand' Zambia, the ZTB marketing gimmick seems to have done quite well if this year’s Zambia Institute of Marketing awards are anything to go by. "Let’s Explore" has been nominated in the Best Brand Marketing Campaign of The Year and the Board itself has been nominated for the "Best Product Launch Of The Year".
Nevertheles, back to Kausa, he had no kind words for the National Arts Council's and the Ngoma Awards, saying they need an entire revamp.
|The new tourism logo as launched |
by Congolese artiste Fally Ipupa
Kausa says what artists need first of all is unity so that even the government can recognise them as partners and not the 'beggars' that they have been for the past 50 years or so.
Kausa has written critically on the arts for over three decades and has contributed to publications such as the Zambia Daily Mail, Lusaka Lowdown and The Zambian Traveller. He has also written several exhibition catalogues and has played the role of curator. Kausa sits on the board of the Lechwe Arts Trust.
|The old tourism logo|
Public grants to support the sector are as good as non-existent. The National Arts Council (NAC), a statutory body governed by an Act of Parliament is supposed to oversee such support. By definition, its role is as clear as it was formulated to mediate, regulate and provide technical support needs to artists of various back-grounds and forms. On the practical front, NAC is grossly underfunded, disenfranchised and not as organised as well as it should have been.
Current statistics show that NAC – which is also the mother body of the Visual Arts Council – has regrettably not lived up to its own mission statement - "To facilitate the development, promotion and nurturing of all forms of amateur and professional arts practice countrywide".
As a cultural entity it competes for funding with several other cultural bodies, and as a governing body its core areas of patronage have been divided across several line ministries. This has not made its work any easier. Ironically these are problems that the previous government itself acknowledged by means of a disclaimer in its National Cultural Policy (2003, p6):
"2.7 Administration and Co-ordination of Cultural Affairs. The Cultural Sector cuts across a number of line ministries such as:
a) The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (under which the Department of Cultural services and the National Arts Council of Zambia fall);
b) The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (under which Zambia Music Copyright Protection Society and film and cinema administration fall);
c) The Ministry of Tourism (under which the National Museum Board and National Heritage Conservation Commission Falls);
d) The Ministry of Local Government and Housing (under which the administration of Chiefs falls); e) The Ministry of Science Technology and Vocational Training (under which the training of artists in col- leges falls);
f) The Ministry of Home Affairs (under which the national Archives falls).
The above scenario raises the problem of co-ordination for effective and efficient delivery of cultural services to the nation."
It is under this gloom and neglect that fleeting subsistence from foreign granting bodies and embassies provide a glimmer of support. Under the PF, some of the ministries mentioned here may have been merged or scrapped all together. Nevertheless even as the new government settles in, there still seems no clarity or clear-cut policy that has been adopted to foster the arts industry vis-a-vis Zambia’s creative economy.