Arts Heavyweights weigh in

Arts Heavyweights weigh in


There were several ‘heavyweights’ of the arts scene in Bulawayo among the 60 artists/practitioners who participated in a consultative roundtable discussion on Thursday 6 April.  The artists viewed the existing hall, offices, large garden area and classrooms at the premises at 98A Lobengula Street, formerly the Youth Contact Centre, and now to be transformed into Bulawayo’s newest meeting place for the arts, the BLUEZ CAFE.

Validation of the concept and many encouraging comments came from among the heavweights weighing in on the discussion.  Thomeki Dube of Black Umfolosi said “It is quite a strategic place for the arts, and comes at the right time, when such spaces are needed the most.”  Musician Nkue Nkala said We need something like this in Bulawayo; we don’t have that space.”  Nobuntu’s Duduzile Sibanda said Imbube is in the same boat, we would love to have such a space for what we do.”  Intwasa Festival’s Raisedon Baya said, It should be a place where, if you want to know what’s happening on any day, you can come here and find something.  A place like this is necessary.”  And Zanele Manhenga of Nobuntu went so far as to say “… it’s a dream come true for us.”  Brian Jones and Jane Morris of AmaBooks publishers said they applaud the initiative, which “will create opportunities for artists to meet the public, attract and nurture beginning writers, and exchange ideas.”

It was evident that in general, artists needs are linked directly to the shortage of available spaces for the arts.  Among other issues, they expressed the need for:

  • rehearsal spaces, and appropriate venues for genre-specific events
  • use of sound and lighting equipment
  • artist-friendly platforms for exposure
  • arts training for marketing, business management and arts administration
  • spaces and programmes for mentoring, sharing collaborating, meeting clients
  • links between artists, promoters, service providers
  • professionalization to ensure quality control and attract new audiences

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