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Fresh consultations on National Arts Council Bill

Fresh consultations with stakeholders in the creative sector and other interested players have started for the National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) Bill.

The bill would have been at an advanced stage by now but Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) led by its former president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango asked for more consultations saying they wanted heritage and arts to be separated.

Mhango said much as the two work hand in hand, they needed to be separated as arts has been sidelined for a long time.

A source from the Department of Arts and Craft in the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture confirmed that fresh consultations have started.

“The bill was recalled from Cabinet after some stakeholders cried foul over the proposed combination of arts and heritage in the council,” the source said.

He said they were not back to square one.

“After the consultations, the draft bill has to be reworked to take into consideration the suggestions from stakeholders. From there, it will be taken to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for vetting and then to cabinet,” the source said.

The source also said that the process will depend on what the stakeholders, rightsholder associations will say during the consultation process and that the bill may change or not.

Several artists have called on the government to fasten the process of the bill which they have indicated is very crucial for the development of the creative industry.

Musician Eric Trinta, who owns Nyamithambo Palace, said policy makers have to realise that the delay in bill was affecting the industry.

“The Arts Council is the only way that could help develop the creative industry and at the same time help in creating employment,” Trinta said.

He said they have spoken about the issue for years now and that it was time the government made progress.

With the Cultural Policy being approved and launched, artists have been lobbying for Arts Council as its associations do not access subvention from the government.

Many of the arts associations in the country rely on donor support.

Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Spokesperson, Simon Mbvundula, recently also confirmed that the issue of Nahec requires further consultations.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Francis Phiso, said the government was committed to help uplift the creative industry in the country.

“The door is open for discussions with stakeholders in the creative industry,” Phiso said.

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