Creative players have bemoaned government’s continued lack of support for the arts sector in the country, citing the 2020/21 budget which has nothing targeting arts and culture.
Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu recently presented in Parliament the budget for the fiscal year 2020/21 which he described as a budget for all Malawians and that it was in line with priorities outlined in the national development blueprint, the third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy.
With the budget themed ‘Living the Promise’ receiving mixed reaction, those in the creative sector have said the budget has completely sidelined them despite contributing greatly to the development of the country.
Former Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) President and renowned gospel musician Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, said the previous regime failed to do enough in terms of supporting the creative industry and that they were hoping for a new chapter with the Tonse Alliance government.
“We have serious hope with the new government that they will be supportive of the arts and culture industry. The budget has completed missed the arts and culture, which is unfortunate. As an industry, we also want to be a priority having been neglected for a longtime,” Mhango said.
He said time has now come for the government to do things right and look at the industry seriously.
“We need funding for School for Arts for example, Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma), Arts and Culture Department and on top of that we need the Arts Council,” Mhango said.
He said the country has talent which has been admired outside the country and needed to invest more investment.
“We need to be at par with the world as far as arts is concerned, we have been doing things on our own but its high time the government supported us. We are appreciative of the fact that they appointed an artist Michael Usi as a Minister and Lucius Banda, another artist as an Advisor to the President on Arts and Youth but it should not only be appointments, we need results,” the ‘Linda’ creator, said.
He said the government needs to work with Usi and Lucius for the development of the creative industry and listen to their projects.
Musician and creative activist Eric Trinta, also said Wednesday that it was disheartening to note that the budget has not mentioned of the creative industry, an indication that the government has no focus on tourism and its products which need to come from Arts Council.
“With no mention of arts, it means that mockery Welfare Fund for artists was just a gimmick to fool the creative industry. We need to realise that we have lots of idle resources in creative industry which needs proper law to make them productive and that law is Arts Council. Arts and Culture Department need to be properly funded,” Trinta said.
The owner of Nyamithambo Arts Palace in Lilongwe and Nsanje, said by not properly funding arts and culture, it means the government is not serious on wealth and job creation.
He said the government led by players such as Usi and Banda, should engage professional players in the creative industry for proper guidance.
Banda, who is also an artist, admitted Wednesday that the budget has sidelined the creative industry.
“The thing is I had little time to meet the Minister of Finance to present my programmes for arts since we were still working on the contract during the time of consultation but there are a number of things I want to present. And just yesterday (Tuesday) I had an audience with the President where I informed him about the creative industry being sidelined in the budget,” Lucius said.
He said the industry should not worry much as there are a number of programmes that will come up and that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife will be supported to come up with different projects to benefit the creative.
“As long as I am there, I will try as much as possible to look at the affairs of Arts and Youth with utmost attention and urgency. There is me and then Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Dr Michael Usi, who is also an artist and so, we will make sure that the creative industry has a representation and that there is a change,” Banda said.