In all efforts, me sharing my experience is not merely about playing the blame game but more of an appreciation and offering constructive criticism, hoping that the little I offer can be something to build on. My Intwasa experience was filled with mixed feelings of happiness, excitement, sadness, disappointments and concern for I am a strong supporter of local arts especially theatre and music.
When I heard and saw that Intwasa is going to be on full force this year, I won’t lie, I got excited. However, like any other Zimbabwean, I got concerned about how the organisers were going to manage with our harsh economic environment but surprisingly, they did their best, of which I would say, prop-ups and thank you for trying to keep the arts fire alive within our city. I believe, if I would rate the advertisement of the festival out of 10, I would give it a 6 for I did see posters of the festival through WhatsApp and Twitter, maybe its because I follow Intwasa on Twitter. However, I did ask one or two peeps, if they knew about the festival, sadly they all said no. It actually got me wondering what is missing because they did show great interest in the festival evident from their numerous endless questions. It was quite motivating to see some people showing interest in local arts.
Being overwhelmed by my work commitments, I made sure that I at least attend two events during the festival and I chose the play ‘Imbokodo’ by Norbert Makoche at the Bulawayo Amphitheatre and the ‘Bayethe’ Concert at the City Hall both held on the 27th of September. Yes!, I attended both shows. I must confess, I was shell shocked by the talent and creativity exhibited by the director and his cast, it was just superb. Unfortunately, it didn’t start on time as they were delayed by unfinished activities that were still going on at the same venue. However, I tell you solemnly, we all loyally waited and for the first time, I experienced a full house at the theatre.
After the play, I had to quickly dash to the Bayethe concert marked for the City Hall as it was also advertised to start at 6pm. Here I am thinking I am extremely late for it was after 7pm, to my surprise, they were still setting up the stage. I just comforted myself by saying, “Ooh well, at least I won’t miss the opening”. One fact that pains me the most, is that time management is still but a myth within our society. Having put that to rest, I then decided to meet up with other artists to see if they were ready for the show, and indeed their enthusiasm cemented my quest.
As the night progressed, complaints began to trickle in from those who had bought tickets for the concert as they angrily highlighted that the entry to the concert was for free. I know, I was also shocked as you now are. What pained me the most was the reaction we got from people who had bought the tickets, for they felt we were using the concert as an excuse to dub them of their hard-earned money. I won’t lie, I was deeply angered and disappointed. It’s something I believe as organisers we need to be careful about.
Yes, there was a good stage setup and sound system, however, the concert looked like a last-minute decision for it genuinely felt like a ‘dumped’ and “let’s just do it to make them happy” thing. There was little to no security and no advertisement in the form of banners to at least show that it was Intwasa related. As for the event management on the actual day at the concert, well, let’s just say there was a lot to be desired for there were a lot of last-minute changes.
But I truly and whole heartedly believe there is always room for improvement. With that being said, these are my suggestions:
1. Let’s prioritize quality over quantity. I strongly believe Intwasa is a brand that has been there for a while, thus focus should now be more on quality of events than the number of activities happening at the same time. I also believe this can help in resource management especially in our country which in itself is resource-constrained.
2. Elimination of nepotism and promotion of skill-based resources and voluntarism. Unfortunately, in life, we cannot please everyone and in our efforts of prioritizing quality, let nepotism not be the culture of the day. I may know the director or organiser but it should not entitle me to free entry or being given a job that I have little knowledge on. Let appropriate skill and voluntarism be the key driver of which I hope is the current state of the festival.
3. Introduction and strengthening of Monitoring and Evaluation systems. I believe a festival is like a project which requires monitoring from the planning phase to the closure of the festival.
4. Event management training and mentorship. I feel those tasked to carry out certain duties need to be capacitated as it will improve the output as art is also a business and mentorship will also promote the sustainability of the festival.
5. Establishment of festival reviews and consultation meetings. This in all honestly, I believe will enable the organisers to get feedback from the consumers of arts and also from the key stakeholders and it will improve and help grow the festival as it will create the feeling of “it belongs to us” rather than “its theirs”. Consultation meetings will enable the organisers to fully prepare for the next edition and it will help in identifying the desired activities and possibly new talent based on agreed outcomes. Innovation is the best medicine for growth.
These are my thoughts, feelings and suggestions of and for the Intwasa festival. I’m not blaming or accusing anyone. I am no expert but also calling a spade a spade. I hope what I have shared helps, and I eagerly wait for the next Intwasa edition.
Clinton Ncube is a Social Worker Child rights activist, Hub Manager, Mental Health Activist and Social Curator.