The month of January is done, already people have set their resolutions, and that includes Government institutions.
So what is in store in the Ministry of Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture for 2024?
Again with the 2024 national budget already allocated, how is the ministry going to tackle that and what programs are set for this year?
The Herald Arts reporter Valerie Mpundu (VM) caught up with the Permanent Secretary for Sport, Arts, Recreation and Culture Nicholas Moyo (NM), and below are the excerpts from the interview:
VM: As the ministry responsible for the arts sector, what challenges did you face last year in executing your mandate of promoting the sector?
NM: There are several challenges; the erosion of the value of the local currency on what the arts and culture sector had been allocated from the national fiscus affected everyone, including our programmes meant for the culture and creative industries (CCI). The Arts Development Fund, for example, was hit by inflation meaning financial assistance request from the sector could not be met.
The CCI sector is on a recovery path from the advent of Covid-19 lockdown when funding for the sector from the Government and even the corporate world had generally been depressed as most economic activities werein recovery mode.
Spending on CCI investments and even buying CCI products and/or attending musical and film shows tended to be generally ranked low on the priorities for many people.
VM: What strategies have you drawn up as a ministry to mitigate the challenges?
NM: The Government, through the NACZ, will be assisting in the facilitation and promotion of CCI projects, including cultural exchange programmes, exhibitions and showcasing CCI practitioners and their work locally, regionally and internationally.
Further, CCI associations will be assisted with administration grants so that they ensure there is standardisation and benchmarking of best practices for the registration of their members.
This is to ensure that the Government’s thrust to have formal structures for the CCI are in place and functional with the outcome being to enhance the ease of doing business and promote investment in the arts and culture.”
The Government, working in partnership with the City of Bulawayo, UNESCO, Zimstat, and the CCI stakeholders in Bulawayo will be surveying the UNESCO 2030 culture indicators to ascertain the economic contributions of the CCI sector to Bulawayo City’s economy in the first half of this year, 2024. Already a working team and the framework are in place.
The data to be collected will be useful in projecting what the CCI sector is bringing to the national economy.
It will give a baseline for conducting a national survey as we widen the scope of harnessing CCI statistical data for the nation to inform on policy and development needs of our Arts and Culture.
VM: Overall, are you satisfied with the 2024 national budget allocation for the arts sector? If not, how big is the funding gap?
NM: The national Budget has and will never be enough for the arts and culture sector. As such we are satisfied with what we received from the Treasury given that perennially, the sector’s allocation always gets affected by the hyper-inflationary environment that the country endures due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. For the arts and culture sector, the ministry was funded to the tune of 14.8% of its bid of Z$75 013 700 000,. It was allocated $11 126 750 000, as such the deficit is $63 886 950 000.
However, the ministry is happy that His Excellency Dr ED Mnangagwa is a listening President who has ensured that the crts and culture get recognition.
Thus, we are positive that as we continue to work as a sector to formalise and improve the quality and quantity of our productions for local and global consumption. We will be able to harness our arts and cultural statistics to know how we impact the economy, thereby gaining national fiscus support for the CCI sector.
VM: Do you envisage consultative meetings with stakeholders, such as artistes, promoters, and media personnel to find ways of addressing some of the challenges being faced in the industry?
NM: The ministry has continuously consulted and engaged stakeholders for their critique and input so that programmes that are rolled out are informed and have stakeholder buy-in and geographical spread.
Going forward, the ministry will continue doing so with open-mindedness as this is becoming our hallmark.
The ministry is aware of the fact that the CCI sector is ever-evolving, as such we have maintained an open-door policy; artists, promoters, media personnel, and investors are welcome to come in and raise their issues with the Ministry.
VM: Are you satisfied with the way arts and culture have generally been incorporated into the education curriculum or more needs to be done?
NM: Generally, yes, the ministry is satisfied with the way the education curriculum has incorporated arts and culture, in what is referred to as a heritage-based curriculum.
While more can be done, the ministry also appreciates and applauds what is happening with the Education 5.0 model in terms of arts and culture, and the milestones reached so far show a positive trajectory for the CCI sector.
A curriculum review is being undertaken in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) and a lot more issues about the arts and culture will be taken on board as part of promoting the diverse cultures of Zimbabweans. We are alive to the fact that learners are being taught and equipped with skills and competencies for them to innovate and solve societal needs across the CCI value chain”
“The ministry operates within the whole Government framework, where for example, what is being taught in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s schools is speaking to the National Development Strategy 1 blueprint on matters of empowering Zimbabwean culture.
This is because in formulating the national outcomes and key performance indicators at the national level, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is a member of the Culture Cluster that the Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture chairs and is deputised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
VM: Do you have any programmes to cater for artistes with special needs or disabilities?
NM: Our ministry is actively involved in the planning and executing of the National Disability Expo which the Office of the Special Advisor to the President on Disability Issues leads; we head the entertainment sub-committee.
Government programmes and events mainstream gender issues, youth, and vulnerable groupings and take special note of special needs for women, youths, and those with living with disabilities in all programming in the ministry.
The ministry also supports people with albinism and those who have hearing impairment in their artistic and cultural expression programs over and above ensuring that whenever we have national galas, a quota is reserved for women artists and artists with disabilities.
The ministry together with its parastatals, the NGZ, and, the NACZ, are geared towards the promotion of the local cultural and creative industries.
Programming and operationalisation of institutional strategic plans are implemented at national and cascade to provincial and district levels, thus ensuring the widest reach and fulfilment of President Mnangagwa’s vision of “leaving no one and no place behind” as we affect the devolution agenda.
The development of regulatory frameworks such as the National Language Policy and review of the National Arts, Culture is meant to create an enabling environment for the ease of doing business for the sector including those with disabilities.