Pick a random local artist and ask them the above question. I can bet
you a million (Zim) Dollars that the first thing they would say is that,
‘They do not get enough support from the community’. But the real question hear is that are you (the artist) supporting your community in any way?
Artists are the key ingredient that can bring back a spirit of
togetherness and cultural pride.
Our Civic institutions such as Public galleries, Arts organisations,
Publishing Houses and Art Entrepreneurs rarely ever use opportunities
that lead to significant change by engaging specific groups to help
run community building projects. Why is this so. Was it not these very communities that gave birth to artists? Most of our artists seem to only engage with the community briefly during special celebrations – at which they would ask for a paycheck when the show is done.
Sociology studies have shown that there are links between economic
growth of a community and its social bonds. That is to say, a society
characterised by social interactions, collective efficiency and spirit
of working together on areas of common interest, can combat any
economic giant. But we seem to have lost that as a country – that’s if we ever had it. There is now a sense of mistrust and suspicion.
Below I have 4 ways by which entertainers can better
serve their communities. There are many more ideas but these are a
Annual or seasonal events such as festivals, commemorations, holidays
and birthdays are widely celebrated within our society and
entertainers need to use them effectively. Firstly artists need to involve more of its community members in planning of such events : the planning process is just as important as the event itself. Do not just organise an event with your friends, pollute the streets with your fliers and expect people to come in numbers. Secondly, social celebrations are exactly that – ‘social’ – so do not always expect to get paid. Look at it as a way to better market
yourself and your product to your fans.
The type of content we distribute to the audience is one issue of
great concern that the industry needs to deal with. If you are a musician, a few tracks where you are protesting about the police, bragging about your bank balance, flaunting your God given assets is understandable, but if your whole album comprises of such content, you know you have a serious problem. What most people, especially in this time of hardship, need is
inspiring content. Music that would give them a reason to wake up and
smile every morning.
3. Public Works
The J. Nkomo statue stands at the centre of the city of Bulawayo. It
is not just a of art – it reconnects us with our past, gives us pride
in our present and reminds us of where we are going.
Artists, with support of local municipality need to make such
architecture for the betterment of their community. Visual artists should be encouraged to collaborate with architects, landscape architects, engineers, and city planners in the design and creation of public spaces.
4. Getting your hands dirty
The job of a true entertainer is not only to make people believe that
great things are possible but to also accomplish great things with his
fans and community. These are tough times for our nation. Homes give birth to street children faster than Grace getting a degree.
Starvation, diseases, climate change and violence are just about some
of the social phenomenons faced in most countries. Thus we need more artists who are prepared to play the role of active citizens that instill positive change within their communities.