‘Embassy closures hit arts sponsorship’

HARARE – The Zimbabwean theatre industry has been adversely affected by the closure of several embassies over the past three years, Rooftop Promotions founder and director, Daves Guzha has revealed.

One of the major arts sponsors was the Norwegian Embassy which shut down operations in June last year while the Danish Embassy closed down in 2015.

“There is little money in the arts, especially the theatre industry, and this is mainly due to the closure of the Norwegian and Danish Embassies.

“The cultural sector last year lost in excess of $2 million, which is like 70 percent of the money which usually circulates,” said Guzha.

He, however, said the theatre industry players should instead find ways to self-fund.

“The template we introduced in 1980 was bad, that we would beg for donor funding instead of raising our own funds. This is something we need to change and start making our own money.

“Artistes should be paid by the money that they make from their products in order to survive.

“I like the way Zimdancehall operates; they do their own thing without a donor. The money they raise from shows is what looks after them. Theatre should take a leaf from that,” he said.

The European Union (EU) has always been the major funder of Zimbabwean arts.

In 2013 and 2014, the EU invested 1,1 million Euros in the Zimbabwean arts industry, according to former envoy, Aldo Dell’Ariccia.

In 2013, 35 projects were supported through partnership with Culture Fund, EUNIC, National Gallery and Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa).

Eight festivals among them Chimanimani, Binga, Intwasa, Let Them Trust, Last Destination, Hifa and Shoko benefitted while more than 3 000 artistes were employed with more than 15 000 people attending the showcases.