Artists Respond to Bulawayo City Council
At a consultative meeting by the Bulawayo Cultural Affairs Office (BCAO) on 1 November held at Bluez Café with artists, arts managers and administrators, promoters and journalists of the city, participants were informed about the history of the Cultural Affairs Office since 2008, current developments, and the role that Nhimbe Trust has played in facilitating the process.
The Cultural Affairs Office is housed at Nguboyenja Housing office and currently has no funding from the City of Bulawayo or elsewhere. It is staffed by BCAO officer Nkululeko Nkala and an intern, and allowances for the staff are supported by Nhimbe Trust, which has also provided computers and a heavy duty printer.
The platform was opened to participants to share issues which they would expect the Cultural Affairs Office to address. These included identification of countries to partner with, the need to strengthen the Council’s foundation, venues, the inclusion of teaching arts and culture through vocational training centers and to create a curriculum for arts in these centres; the need for BCAO to work with artists who are already in those sectors and the need for support from the city fathers to build cultural infrastructure in the cities.
The City Council welcomed all recommendations, and also encouraged artists to attend council meetings where they can have access to information such as the Community Development Fund. Artists said it was not known who the relevant people are to approach, and clearer dissemination of information by council would help.
Other roles of the BCAO would be to take inventory of infrastructure and find out what is required to make the venues and facilities fully functional; to make the National Cultural policy and other related legislation accessible to artists; introduce a levy to contribute to the development of artists; revive of festivities/festivals in the community.
Other issues raised included the operations of the Cultural Affairs Office in relation with other council offices and the National Arts Council, and clear information for access by artists.
Agreed deliverables by 31 December 2017 were:
- a database of artists easily accessible to everyone and online
- High visibility for the Cultural Affairs Office e.g. website
- Strategy and Programme for 2018 and strategy, in consultation with artists
- Circulation of any Policy documents.