Minister slams ‘racist’ corporate sponsors

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DEPUTY Information Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, has described the corporate sector as “racist” in the way they support arts and cultural initiatives in the country.
The minister said the big corporates rushed to support festivals run by non-indigenous people while neglecting other festivals, leading to the stunted growth of indigenous arts.
Mandiwanzira said this while making a key note address at the official re-launch of Inxusa Theatre Festival at Amakhosi Cultural Centre in Bulawayo this week.
“Despite the fact that most of the leaders of the companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are like me, they are indigenous but they are racist in the way they support festivals, the arts and culture in this country,” he said.
“I mention festivals because they are a part of us and they make a contribution to Zimbabwe but the reality of the matter is that festivals that are organised by non-indigenous people have the greatest corporate support in this country.
“All the banks rush to pour money into those festivals. All the companies fight to sponsor international artistes to come and perform at these festivals but you have Inxusa festival; the biggest corporates with money take it away from you,” said Mandiwanzira.
He added that big companies were supporting and promoting foreign cultures instead of the Zimbabwean culture adding it was important to support the arts industry as it was one of the biggest employers in the country.
“It is important to support the arts and theatre as it creates employment,” he said.
“It is a revenue generator not just for the actor, but it’s a revenue generator for the economy. I was just reading the other day that the arts industry in America, for instance in 2011, contributed about $404 billion to America’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“In 2012 the Hollywood county had a contribution of more than $48 billion from the arts industry. We have the potential to grow the arts industry into a major industry that employs and generates revenue for the country and those that participate in it.”
Growth of the arts industry was possible if there was significant investment poured into the creative sector.
“The investment must also be protected by putting in place and implementing laws that protect copyright,” he said.
“I can assure you that this government and the ministry of information, media and broadcasting has serious commitment to the arts industry and would to see the arts industry grow. The festival, now in its third edition, will run from March 25 to 29 under the theme, “merging cultures”.Advertisement

Inxusa Theatre Festival was founded by Amakhosi Theatre at Stanley Hall and Square in Makokoba, Bulawayo back in 1990 where it presented a six week theatre marathon of plays, all written and directed by Cont Mhlanga as a way of celebrating the group’s ten years of making and touring theatre.
The festival was suspended in 1999 for re-designing and focusing as it was fast growing towards becoming a huge music festival and not only theatre.