HIFA 2014 is the 15th festival since its start in 1999. The arts festival is now the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe and is seen as a key contributor to the development of performing arts in southern Africa. The national gallery of Zimbabwe hosted two discussions in the morning. I would attend the ‘wind of change’ with Doron (AMBA), but mistakenly landed up in the other. The selected panel took turns to stand up and talk about their artistic projects and experiences. Bands using social media, a man using jet-set connections to promote his song in creative-industry style. The people attending were mainly performing artists or involved with organizing events and festivals (including team members of HIFA), so when the discussion opened up some great insight was given to the cultural climate of Zimbabwe. For example unclear sponsorship deals, lack of quality, unjust expectations, but foremost the lack of access to give cultural education.
While the discussion group went to have breakfast, Doron and I found the ‘wind of change’. A formal panel discussion, with seats for Mr Chikukwa, Dr Bere, Mr Kangai, Mr Hwati, Mrs Sibanda, Mr Klinghofer, Dr Samwanda. Separating the panel group with a long table and a three meter gap sat we the audience, a few artists, press and collectors.
A point from the discussion: is contemporary Africa art ready for the art market as China was ‘discovered’ less than half a decade ago?
This year you will see the fashion industry inspired by Africa tribal objects and patterns. But this is not the same as the Chinese contemporary art. China has brought art to the world markets in order to boost the local value of their contemporary arts for speculators and investors in China. So there was no real incentive to sell art to the west, in contrary to African contemporary art that does not have much of a local market. Further more, in Africa, as some of the panel members pointed out, there is little local awareness of contemporary African art and the main priority should be to attend to nurture the local awareness of African culture in Africa.
The discussion was ended with 2 pots of strong tea, and biscuits.
In the evening I attended the CABS opera Gala
Traditionally sponsored by CABS, a local banking group, and with it the traditional opera night. Best described as opera light for novices, a lot of small but well known pieces are sung. http://gonexc.me/2014/05/01/hifa-2014-day-2/