ORGANISERS of The Arts Gathering (TAG) festival have said this year’s two-day edition of the fete roars to life virtually today in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

The festival, organised by AfriKera Arts Trust, Music Crossroads Academy of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, is a multidiscipline event that showcases dance, visual art, theatre, fashion design, music, comedy and spoken word.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style yesterday, Music Crossroads Zimbabwe country director Melody Zambuko said organising this year’s festival has been tough as they are acclimatising to the “new normal” in the wake of the coronavirus.

“While festivals are traditionally for physical experience, we are however, taking everything online in order to encourage safety in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic though the whole experience is lost somewhere in the process,” she said. “COVID-19 compliance measures have limited us to two venues this year, The AfriKera Dance Theatre Hub and your computer screens.

We are bringing the shows to you, so join us for two days of co-creation, animated discussions and reinvention of how we experience the arts.”
Zambuko said this year’s theme, Stage left, Stage right, Stage Zoom, highlights the hybrid nature of the proceedings, the physical and digital adaptation of the performing arts in this “new normal.”

“As a way of responding to COVID-19 guidelines, we have identified a technical partner (Quidpro) who will be in charge of recording most performances and live streaming the entire festival for the showbiz followers,” she said.

Zambuko said on both days, the festival will open with a Zoom session under the topic Innovative hosting of festivals in the COVID-19 era.

“The Zoom session will be held on the 29th from 10am to 1130am as a way of consulting various festival organisers to think of innovative ways of filling that gap which is created by the shift to digital, and also a way of embracing the positive of online broadcasting,” she said.

“Such positives include wider and diverse reach of audiences, quick feedback of audience feelings, safety of watching from home amongst many other things.”
Zambuko said although performances were free, donations were still welcome.

“Don’t let social distancing turn you into an antisocial square. From the 29th to the 30th of October, select performances and discussion sessions will be hosted on Zoom, while a limited number of guests are invited to enjoy live performances as per COVID-19 compliance measures applied at AfriKera,” she said.

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