The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
THE second edition of the Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF), which starts tomorrow, is set to throw the spotlight on the city’s often overlooked landmarks while affirming Bulawayo’s status as the cultural capital of the country.
President Mnangagwa is set to officiate at the festival which ends on Wednesday. Some of the highlights of the festival are the launch of the Bulawayo Urban Heritage and Eco-Tourism Programme on 3 June 2021 and the Creative and Cultural Industries Conference between 3 and 4 June.
In an interview, BAF director Saimon Mambazo Phiri said after a lowkey event last year that was marked by virtual showings, this year’s extravaganza would give the festival an opportunity to widen its scope.
“When Covid-19 hit us, no one knew how to make a festival. So, what you saw last year was our trial run at making a festival. I’m glad that we reached at least 45 countries in terms of viewership and that inspired us to say maybe we should we do more. We want to sell the brand Bulawayo because Bulawayo is a destination,” he said.
After a nationwide rollout campaign, Phiri said the organisers’ task was now to show that Bulawayo was indeed the country’s cultural capital.
“This is the only festival that is run under the auspices of a local authority. We are trying to create the model city. In this case we also want to prove, using numbers, that Bulawayo is the cultural capital. By going national we want to show that we are a city that is embracing and we cannot survive without other cultural influences in the country.
Initially the aim was to go to the country’s ten provinces in order to harness talent. We found a lot of talent and you shall see them on this year’s lineup,” he said.
After an exclusively virtual festival last year, Phiri said this year’s fest would be a hybrid of both virtual and physical showings. He also added that the arts fete would also allow them to throw the spotlight on significant and unique cultural landmarks.
“His Excellency will be here to see what we are proposing as the Bulawayo Urban Heritage Corridor. If we are selling Bulawayo as a destination, what can one see when there are no performing arts. We are also talking about the infrastructure and the heritage that the city has. From the State House, to the Inxwala Grounds, the Hanging Tree, Joshua Nkomo’s statue, the Basilica at St Mary’s, the Khami Ruins, Chipangali, these are all attractions in the city even others on the periphery like Amagugu. This is a city endowed with so much heritage,” he said.
Phiri said the Creative and Cultural Industries Conference would give arts practitioners a chance to make themselves an integral part of National Developmental Strategy 1 (NDS1).
“Due to the NDS1 programme that the government is on about, we want to find our footprint within the plans of Vision 2030. Within the festival we are running this high-level cultural governance conference which is addressing issues to do with the strategies that the cultural and creative industries have going forward.
“We want to interact with the Ministries of Finance, the Ministries of Environment and the Ministries of Local Government because we are also housed under the Ministry of Local Governance for this particular event. The problem is that the arts are always hidden from these Ministries. So, what we are doing is to bring an inter-Ministerial government strategy to make sure that the arts can also be seen to be part of the economy and NDS1,” he said.