AS the year 2019 ended yesterday, the creative industry had no kind words for the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry who they say has failed to live up to expectation — transforming the arts and culture sector robustly.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
In separate interviews with NewsDay Life & Style yesterday, some creatives labelled Coventry the worst sector’s minister, who has failed to show them that she has an understanding of the arts and culture sector.
“The arts industry is facing funding challenges, issues of intellectual property, royalties and piracy just to name but a few and I think these are some of the immediate issues that she has failed to address or even attempted to deal with,” he said.
“As filmmakers we have not had the privilege to meet or engage her. For me, it’s sad how they don’t realise the power that film has to propel agendas forward from tourism to selling the image of this country,” he said.
“The rule of filmmaking is ‘show it don’t tell it’, so they could take advantage of our trade and instead of saying most stuff they could just show it using film. Imagine a live story movie set in Victoria Falls or an epic movie set at Great Zimbabwe. We are all afraid of America as a super power because we have all seen Arnold Schwarzenegger going to Colombia on his own to kill the whole army, or Bruce Willis saving the whole world in Armageddon. Anyway, one day they will know.”
“I am one of the people who celebrated the appointment of Coventry, but I am not convinced by her performance since she took office. There has been a lot of the usual talk and less action on the artistic and cultural part. A lot of what needs to be done does not require money, but new imagination and innovation supported by a huge diaspora artistic community,” he said.
“She is in charge of possibly the most important ministry in the country, a ministry that deals with the Youths, Sports and Culture and the youth constitute the bigger population and equally possess untapped creative potential that could help create jobs, transform the national narrative, foster a new sense of pride, provoke new imagination and enhance tourism, but sadly the creative sector is struggling.
“It seems that the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry either has misplaced priorities or is completely clueless on the needs of the arts industry. Her ministry has not made any meaningful attempt to engage with stakeholders in the industry to at least establish a common vision or policy thrust,” he said.
“Countries that have thriving cultural industries to the extent of successfully exporting their art bank a lot on the government support. Our artists lack that support and are subjected to a toxic operating environment and the minister seems to be blind to this reality,” he said.
“If I were to rate performances of the ministry, I would go for the departments which were in touch with artists’ challenges not the minister who is only less than a year and half working with the art sector,” he said.
“The other issue to consider is to look at the arts department budget allocation. Artists’ needs are catered for by different ministries for example Home Affairs has the censorship board and the monuments, film is under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services were also musicians face censorship under Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. It is, therefore, not easy to rate Coventry under these circumstances.”
“It is a very difficult call, given that I can’t feel what she is doing. Maybe, it is just a poor communication system at the ministry that is not sharing the good work she has done.”
“I admire her (Kirsty) since the days of her swimming career, but personally I feel as the film industry we have been neglected. I do believe we fall under the arts banner, but our voices deserve to be heard by such offices,” he said.
“I would rate her five out of 10, but if she plays her role well as the Arts minister (not only focusing on athletics) she can do wonders.”
“Considering she (Kirsty) has been an athlete, we expected that she would know the behind the scenes of the arts and culture sector and be quick to act on matters affecting us in the sector, but we were wrong,” she said.
“As an advocate of gender balance, I am quite pleased with her (Kirsty) inclusion in the Cabinet. I applaud her for all she has done so far in terms of bettering the arts industry, however, my plea to her is to maintain that and go the extra mile once again in implementing working policies in the arts sector for the betterment of the arts industry.”
“After joining President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, her (Kirsty) silence when our artists are attacked by the State is unacceptable. Why was she silent about the abduction of Gonyeti (female comedian) and Platinum Prince (dancehall singer)? What action has she demanded to find the perpetrators?”