The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
AFTER criticism levelled against local award ceremonies for failing to change the lives of artistes monetarily, this year’s ROIL Bulawayo Arts Awards (RBAAs), which have been moved from 28 August to 6 November, will carry a reward for at least one award winner, that organisers believe will be meaningful and life changing.
Social media erupted recently as artistes poured scorn on local award ceremonies, claiming that they did not sufficiently renumerate winners. The RBAAs were one of the ceremonies that came under the spotlight, as some artistes felt that more could be done to reward them financially, particularly during a pandemic hit year which grounded artistes.
In an interview with the Sunday Life Podcast, one of the brains behind the award ceremony, Nkululeko Nkala, said while awards ceremonies around the world were not noted for the monetary reward they brought, the RBAAs were ready to go the extra mile this year and change the lives of a few artistes.
“If you were paying attention to social media over the last few months, you would have noticed that there has been an outcry about what awards come with. Together with our sponsor we are trying to ensure that there is a big award that is life changing for one or two people. Amongst other things, we are trying to make sure that come 6 November someone will walk away smiling.
“We are talking to a few people and in July we are having what we term a corporate launch to unveil a few other sponsors, to ensure that this year will be different in terms of production, sponsorship, remuneration and in terms of outlook as a whole,” he said.
Nkala said there was a common misconception that the city’s premier awards ceremony was not monetised, despite the fact that artistes were rewarded in all past editions.
“Every year the awards have been monetised. It’s a misconception that the awards have not been monetised. We know that it is not enough to take you out of the street or make sure that the next day you’re driving a Mercedes Benz. We don’t even drive those cars. For us, it’s about recognition. It’s about giving credit where it is due and at the end of the day, we need to be aware of what is happening all around us. How is our economy? How many corporates are willing to come and say we are willing to change everyone’s lives with regards to these awards. Worldwide, you can even go to the Grammys, most of these awards don’t come with a monetary value. However, we have made sure that every year, there is something that is there to complement the efforts made by artistes through the year,” he said.
Nkala said the awards would this year take the title name of their sponsor, while the postponement had been necessitated by the fact that some arts disciplines had so far not offered much in a year that began with a nationwide lockdown in Zimbabwe.
“There are now one or two changes. Bulawayo arts awards will not be called just the BAAs but the ROIL Bulawayo Arts Awards. Bulawayo awards have been moved from August 28th to the 6th of November because we feel due to Covid-19 there hasn’t been a lot happening. Our creatives need a bit of time. Obviously, there is enough to make the awards happen but we feel that some genres, like theatre for example, have not had a lot going on,” he said.
Nkala said for organisers the awards were now a non-stop venture, as at the end of one ceremony they began looking forward to the next.
“The moment we finish one ceremony we start planning the next one. There is never any rest and as we speak yesterday, we had a marathon meeting. Which is where the dates were changed and that is where we decided that, hypothetically speaking, we get someone a house or someone a car.
It is all a process that requires planning every day for 365 days. When people see the final product, it is not like we then rest for the rest of the year. We don’t have that luxury because we always want to be six steps ahead. Obviously because we are open to criticism, we will always keep our ears on the ground when it comes to the arts industry as a whole,” he said.
In the presence of Covid-19, Nkala said this year’s ceremony would once again be offered as a product packaged for both physical and online audiences, with organisers taking cues from last year’s ceremony. Poor time management, something that has plagued past ceremonies, would this year be addressed as organisers moved to iron out a few issues that stood in the way of a perfectly run ceremony.
“A lot of things have changed worldwide. We have a new normal which applies to everyone. We are already planning on a hybrid ceremony and by this, I mean that we have a ceremony that is both digital and physical. Last year was our trial run,” he said.