Arts and Culture Festival Guidelines
Festivals are the most effective way for communities to flaunt their cultural expressions. Besides, festivals are of economic value to the communities in which they are hosted. As a result, they constitute an economic activity whose importance to the economic development of the host communities is immense. As economic ventures, arts and culture festivals through their inherent value chain create employment and business opportunities to the host localities.
Given the importance of Arts and Culture Festivals, particularly as a platform for diverse artistic and cultural expressions, the regulatory body (National Arts Council of Zimbabwe) crafted general guidelines for the hosting of all Arts and Culture Festivals in the country. The guidelines ensure that festivals are held in line with the country’s aspirations in-so-far as the development of the creative industry is concerned over and above efforts to safeguard cultural identity, heritage and their attendant expressions. The Festival Guidelines were designed to ensure the following:
- Registration of all Arts and Culture Festivals with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for purposes of documentation and information management.
- Appropriate naming of the respective festivals for example, one genre festival shall be referred to as such, music festival, dance festival, theatre festival and not as an arts festival that normally is multi-disciplinary in content.
- Ensuring that festivals are self-sustaining in nature. Free festivals are permissible as well but organisers are encouraged to secure adequate funding.
- Promotion of good corporate governance, transparency and accountability by ensuring that a properly constituted Board of Directors is in place for the various Arts and Culture Festivals especially when such festivals receive donor funds.
- Ensuring that each festival has a proper programme indicating venues,
scheduled activities and the number of days.
- An Arts and culture Festival shall have a theme at any given time that guides all proceedings and shall assist in impact ass
Influenced by the Convention, the main feature of the measure is its ability to give a platform to marginalized cultural expressions to be showcased. The guidelines promote local participation by communities in the provision of services to the festival as well as giving preference to the locally-based artists and cultural practitioners. That way, indigenous and previously neglected cultural expressions are given a platform to be marketed. Besides, the guidelines give direction and formal status to those cultural expressions that are viewed as routine cultural practices by the communities yet they constitute integral components of cultural expressions of the communities concerned. The guidelines also are part of efforts to regulate and formalize the activities of the expressive sector through the enhancement of data collection, preservation and promotion of cultural expressions threatened with extinction. Localized Arts and Culture Festivals present employment opportunities for local people while contributing to the development of the communities as well through establishment of appropriate infrastructure for hosting the festivals. Localized Arts and Culture Festivals also contribute immensely to the unearthing of those respected cultural expressions the local people hold dear and are eager to share with the rest of the country
The measure seeks to create a level ground in terms of giving equal opportunities to all cultural expressions. Further, the guidelines give parameters on the status and nature of each festival in terms of scope, format and the hiring of service providers including artists and cultural practitioners to be involved. Cognisant of the fact that the arts and culture sector is an important component of economic activities, the guidelines also seeks to usher in professional ethics in the sector, particularly on the issues good governance, transparency and accountability. Through the same guidelines, marginalized cultural expressions are given ample time to be flaunted alongside major ones. The desire is to unearth, preserve and promote those cultural expressions threatened with extinction. In addition, the guidelines promote the involvement of local artists and cultural practitioners, particularly in festivals happening in their respective areas. Cultural expressions happen in communities and through the framework provided by the guidelines, community involvement is enhanced. Integration of culture in sustainable community development is also enhanced through implementation of the festival guidelines.
Most festival organisers are self-funding and they fundraise each year for the hosting of their respective festivals
Major lessons drawn from the review sessions are itemized below:
- Cultural expressions are very dynamic just like society itself. New creations and expressions regularly emerge and stakeholders in the culture sphere need to be constantly on the lookout for new developments.
- The guidelines are a fertile ground for the cross-fertilisation of the diversity of cultural expressions through exchange programmes.
- The framework created by the guidelines promotes peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence in communities. Festivals are rallying points by nature and are also used for mass communication strategies designed to promote community development.
- The guidelines act as catalysts for the nurturing of professionalism in the arts and culture sector.
- Arts and culture education is enhanced through the guidelines as they provide the basis through which mainstreaming of arts and culture education into the formal education trajectory is attained.