Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
ARTISTES countrywide have reiterated the call for Government to consider partially opening the creative sector by allowing them to hold events, with a group of promoters saying events should be open to a “vaccinated environment”.
The creative sector has been closed for over a year now with arts-related events banned. Due to this ban, MCs, sound engineers, caterers, music promoters, DJs, vendors, bouncers and artistes themselves have been greatly affected as they have not worked in months.
On Tuesday, Government said the closure of facilities like bars and nightclubs was still in place with Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa urging the nation to adhere to this ban.
“The nation is reminded that all beer halls, bars, pubs and nightclubs remain closed. Bottle stores should strictly open for takeaways, as required by the law.
“Restaurants are expected to continue to be open for 50 percent sit-in capacity, takeaways and deliveries. Cabinet approved that the operating times for the restaurants be extended to 2100hours,” said Minister Mutsvangwa in her post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday.
Following this announcement, artistes countrywide, realising that they were doomed, united for a movement dubbed #EventsAreDoAble that was led by the Association of Music Promoters Zimbabwe (AMPZ). Through this movement, artistes flooded social media with posts stating that the hosting of events is possible. The text on the posts read: “I am an ARTIST. Without events, I have no income. I can’t survive… Events are a source of employment . . .”
AMPZ interim chairperson, Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza pleaded with Government to consider their set rules of holding events.
“As promoters, we’re always engaging our good Government as we feel our industry is the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing lockdown. Through the #EventsAreDoAble movement, we’re saying events can be done hence our hashtag,” explained Chipaz.
Quizzed how they intend to host shows in a way that will not put peoples’ lives in danger, Chipaz said: “Our plea is that they allow events to open with the maximum allowed people of 50 or 100. We’re aware of the pandemic and its effects and that our Government is working tirelessly to open all industries.”
Chipaz added that in order to ensure the safety of both artistes and patrons, one of their propositions is that event organisers and attendees be vaccinated.
“Our proposition is that the organiser of the event, who in this case is a promoter, and his or her team, must have been vaccinated as well as all service providers, performing artistes and patrons.
“At the event’s point entry, there should be vaccination points in order to ensure that the events will be for vaccinated people only as we complement good efforts of the Government to get people vaccinated,” said Chipaz.
Arts group, Bolamba Culture Birds director, Mthabisi Dube in solidarity with the campaign said: “This is my office, my work. If up until now events are closed, how should I survive? What about my family, dancers and their families?
“If all other sectors are open, why can’t ours also be allowed to reopen?”
Bulawayo-based promoter, Terminator Makoni of DTL Events said the closure of arts is a slow death to the creative sector.
“Shows are the backbone of artistes’ financials considering that many of them are yet to tap fully onto the online payment systems.
Hundreds of families are struggling considering the various departments found in manning a show so Government should urgently consider partially opening the arts sector,” said Terminator.
Of late, artistes have been using venues such as restaurants to trade their art, but that has not been sufficient as some desire to host their own events.
Some fortunate ones have been getting gigs to perform in South Africa, a move that musician, Selmor Mtukudzi said is not sustainable.
Joining the movement by posting the fliers, she urged the Government to hear them out.
“May you please give us guidelines to follow so we can make a living? We can’t all go to South Africa to find work when we can do it here ourselves,” posted Selmor on her social media pages.
Responding to the artistes’ movement, some suggested that artistes focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated because that is the only way they will be permitted to host shows, once the majority of locals have been vaccinated.
“The truth is, artistes must first use their influence to encourage people to get vaccinated. Without vaccination, events will not come back, it’s wishful thinking. The sooner people get vaccinated, the sooner we can return to normalcy,” one comment read. — @mthabisi_mthire.