THE National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) has come under fire for its failure to fully embrace the digital era and market its online platforms after the annual Culture Week — which was held last week — failed to attract significant online viewership.


The arts mother body was forced to go digital following the ban on public gatherings to minimise the potential spread of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The national concert that was beamed live on national broadcaster ZBC-TV was, however, met with mixed reactions.

With a star-studied line up of performers including Selmor Mtukudzi, Jeys Marabini and Peter Moyo, the concert failed to attract meaningful online viewership on the NACZ Facebook page.

Feedback on social media showed extensive discontent amid calls for the arts mother body to consider partnering with other stakeholders for increased visibility.

Arts promoter and critic Plot Mhako yesterday told NewsDay Life & Style that NACZ should take heed to the call for transformation and re-imagination as things were changing fast.

“The livestreaming of the Culture Week concert was a rude awakening to the NACZ. There are several possible reasons for the online flop of the Culture Week event. The marketing was poor and was not befitting of a national event. There was no sufficient engagement and publicity and most artistes who were participating did not help with publicity either,” he said.

“To make matters worse, they used two Facebook accounts with very low following. NACZ could have partnered some of the National Art Merit award-winning online media platforms to get more traffic.”

Event specialist and social influencer Marshall Shonhai said State institutions have lost credibility, so for them to pull off an event on their own it’s now next to impossible.

“NACZ needed partners. They should have teamed up with the various platforms that had already built a following for these lockdown live events. Many people, especially online, don’t watch ZBC-TV anymore,” he said.

Prominent arts promoter and critic Benjamin Nyandoro said online audiences were clearly not an easy market.

“I stand to believe that huge numbers recorded on the same platform before may fairly be attributed to factors contributed by the content providers. The platform alone is not enough,” he said.

“Engage those who are doing well and fuse them with what the programme sought as ideal. To be honest, this is a difficult scenario. I understand if organisers were shocked by the numbers. They did everything else right.”

Zimbabwe Dancehall Awards founder Phineas Mushayi said the event had terrible sound engineering that put off many viewers.

“I think the biggest issue here is that we are entering a whole new territory of the digital age which is dominated by the younger audience and the nature of that event would never attract them,” he said.

“There are artistes that had good social presence before lockdown like most Zimdancehall and hip-hop artistes and these are artistes that would likely draw numbers to live broadcasts.”

NACZ spokesperson Rodney Ruwende, however, said the Culture Week concert went according to plan.

“In a nutshell, the concert managed to showcase Zimbabwe’s cultural diversity spanning the different musical genres displayed on the night. Importantly, this show attracted a good audience on ZBC-TV as well as social media where it was watched by over 10 000 people on the NACZ Facebook page as well as being shared on 60 other pages on the night,” he said.

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