The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
AS it looks to spread its wings, the Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo will this year prioritise community engagement, with emphasis on holding events in the townships where the festival’s impact in the past was not strongly felt.
Intwasa recently held its first consultative meeting of the year, with one of the resolutions of that gathering being the decision to spread the event around the city. The City Hall, where the festival’s main stage is usually situated, has hogged the limelight in the past.
“Another thing that we have come to acknowledge is that we have to improve on our community engagement as a festival,” said festival director Raisedon Baya.
“Yes, you might have your City Hall and Bulawayo Theatre as the centrepieces of the festival but at the same time you cannot neglect the townships and the feeling this year is that we need to take it to the people. When we say we are hosting Intwasa we want it to be felt by everyone in Bulawayo and not just those in the city centre.”
In the past the festival’s organisers have had their hands full trying to run the city’s major festival on their own, something that Baya said they would change as they embraced other interested partners.
“It took us a while but we have slowly realised that we can’t do it all alone. There has to be a buy-in from other interested stakeholders. We need everyone to come together if we are to make this a success year after year. We have also realised that we won’t stumble on a heap of money or people won’t throw money at us. This means that we have to manage our expectations.
“There are people that are already doing things in the community and we have realised that we need to join up with them. We utilise their networks and organisation to make the festival bigger and so we have all these people that are running their own projects as our partners,” Baya said.
With the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) rumoured to be facing another bleak year, Baya said they would ensure that Intwasa would not follow the same path as the country’s premier arts festival.
“As Intwasa, we have said that the festival will not be cancelled for whatever reason. It simply has to go on because it occupies an important space on the Bulawayo art and cultural scene. We won’t cancel even if it means we are holding two or three events. I think that is a reality that some of our festival runners will have to come to grips with in such tough times,” he said.
Baya added that they were courting potential sponsors while they hoped that the economic outlook would improve before this year’s edition of the fest. Intwasa will take place between 20 and 27 September this year.
“For us, the first thing to hope for is that things get better. No one knows the near future but operating in an environment like this is to plan and hope that the factors that are beyond your control work in your favour.
“Funds are hard to come by at the moment and it is not like a few years ago when we had some support from the corporate world. With that being said, we are still talking to some NGOs and other corporates to see if they can come on board and assist us this year again,” he said.