|ARTS FOCUS with RAISEDON BAYA|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 20:21|
Department of Arts and Culture slowly laying foundation for arts developmentThe Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, through its Arts and Culture Department, has embarked on a massive orientation programme for schools’ Arts and Culture Heads of Departments within Bulawayo Metropolitan Province. Recently the department held district by district workshops whose main thrust was to unpack the ministry’s expectations when it comes to arts and cultural activities within schools.
What seems to be coming out in the open is that the department is keen to formalise art and cultural activities within schools by making sure that arts and culture are taken with the seriousness they deserve. Israel Ndlovu, E O Arts and Culture, observed that the current trend within schools is that arts and culture activities are taken as pastime events or place holder activities and the department was working on bringing that to an end.
Arts and cultural activities come second if not third after academic subjects and sports in terms of importance or priority. However, from the workshops it seems that era and its errors is coming to an end. Schools are already implementing the ministry’s circular 28 of 2010 recommendations which seek to mainstream and institutionalise arts and culture activities in schools.
The circular demands that a committee be set in each school to oversee the running and implementation of arts and culture activities within the schools and linking these to the immediate communities surrounding schools.
One interesting element within the ministry’s quest is its hunger for statistics. Numbers are crucial. Numbers of arts and culture activities a school organises; numbers of participating students per each activity. Each school is required to send a statistical report after each cultural activity or event. The statistics have to cover the number of all players as these will be used in shaping the future of the sector. In the broader arts sector, the lack of statistics has weakened the argument about the importance of arts and consequently stalled the development of the sector. Perhaps the demand for statistical reports will bring a new dimension to the argument on the worthiness of arts in our society.
It must be noted that the ministry is not embarking on this dream journey alone but has taken on board other stakeholders. Artistes and institutions with vast expertise were invited to come and share with educators their experiences. Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo shared its understanding of arts and culture, particularly the importance of festivals both at community level and within the school system.
Presenting a paper on organising festivals, a representative from Intwasa, made it clear that culture is the strongest tool any individual or a group of people can use to their advantage. This presentation laid bare the importance of Arts festivals in schools and how these can cement the position of schools as centres of community development.
Historian and cultural expert Phathisa Nyathi, who was Guest of Honour at one of the district workshops, gave a paper on Cultural Villages which are supposed to be built by schools. He laughed at the idea of schools being expected to build huts and calling these villages. Pathisa Nyathi gave a clear definition of what a village is and how they vary from one ethnic group to the other. He recommended that schools should instead build Cultural Centres as villages will demand a lot of resources. The veteran cultural expert promised to give a more detailed paper during Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo in September.
Silenkosi Moyo also shared vital information on Art Galleries and the importance of Visual Arts exhibitions in schools as a form of boosting learners’ self-esteem and helping them to find themselves through their works. William Nyarandoro from National Arts Council office in Bulawayo made a presentation on the importance of observing International Arts Days by schools and the community of artistes. And so, the systems that the sector continues to cry for are slowly being put in place — one step at a time.
On something different:
Arts Focus watched Mgcini Nyoni’s The Button Box at Amakhosi Cultural Centre last week. The play is Nyoni’s brave take on women abuse, particularly rape and the physical abuse that most women have been exposed to. It is a one hander that traces the main character’s journey from innocence to the hardcore prostitute she ends up as in the last scenes of the play. Sadly theatre audiences continue to disappoint by shunning theatrical presentations by local thespians. After the Amakhosi run, rumour has it that the show is headed for Malawi’s Blantyre Arts Festival. Arts Focus wishes the play a successful run in Malawi.