Local artists have urged the Government of Zimbabwe to come up with myriad arts exhibitions in the mould of the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) to enhance and boost the local arts industry’s image.
Artists interviewed by The Statesman News before the curtains came down at this years’ HIFA edition said the annual exhibition, which is a brainchild of a private organisation provides an oxygen mask to the arts industry market, which is pulseless in the country due to economic hardships.
Recycled ‘Art’ artist, Boyd Bisiwasi who craft toys, candle stands and baskets among others from used bottle tops said HIFA provides a future customer base, while artists who exhibit do not expect many sales at the event either.
“HIFA is not all about expecting numerous sales, but it gives us a platform to meet new customers who can contract us in future, especially foreigners, since our huge market base is outside the country.
“We hope the new dispensation will not be paralyzed in coming up with government established exhibitions, since HIFA is not state organised. We also expect frequent exhibitions, as annual shows starve us of foreign customers who take a lion share of our customer base,” he said.
An A level student, Paidamoyo Chifamba of Chief African Jewel, which crafts horn jewellery such as earrings, necklaces and rings from cow horn echoed the same sentiments with fellow business comrades and opined that a deficiency in government support might fuel employment syndrome.
She said, “We urge government to increase arts exhibitions as this is the only way of showcasing our talent to foreigners who make up a large proportion of our customers, since locals despite appreciating our work, their desire to buy remains chimerical due economic hardships which attract a vista that art is luxury.
“As a student, I don’t subscribe to employment syndrome, but this filterable disease can be fueled by lack of government backing because not all of us are financially equipped to travel for outside the country exhibitions. I’m expecting to be an employer in the near future and my dream will come true if the market base inflate and this is achievable, through regular exhibitions,” she added.
Maungira Enharira front man Wilfred MaAfrica prior to adding voice on the need for numerous arts showings, hailed HIFA for organizing the annual event which he described as the sole market place for African ethnic musical instruments, such as mbira and marimba which are judged evil by locals, while foreigners buy them without speculative beliefs.
Art has become a major source of employment in the country and the market base, which is hugely occupied by whites was suffocated in the past years due to bad relations between former president Robert Mugabe and Western countries, coupled by a scarceness of arts exhibitions, thereby throwing artists in artificial poverty.