There has been a tussle on the name National Arts and Heritage Council (NaHec) with creatives calling for a separation so that heritage should stand on its own and not put together with arts.
But Director of Museums and Monuments in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Lovemore Mazibuko has clarified that the name has nothing to do with the works of arts being submerged by heritage.
“There is a provision to establish NaHec and this is contained in NaHec Bill to be sent to Parliament but its naming has created a problem with many arts practitioners not comfortable with the combining of arts and heritage. To them, they feel like heritage will dominate but this is not correct,” Mazibuko said.
The creation of NaHec which the creative industry feels should be named Arts Council is aimed at coordinating arts industry for it to benefit from among others, subvention from the government.
“Most activities will be arts and not heritage. Heritage only comes in because of the issues to do with Gazetting of national monuments. The thing is, instead of creating two parastatals with similar mandate, we thought of going for one and so, this should not be cause for worry,” he said.
The development comes as Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife in partnership with Unesco is holding regional consultations for the arts and culture sector on implementation of Culture Policy.
Culture Policy came into effect in 2015 and in there, there is a creation of NaHec.
“Through these consultations we want to promote better visibility of the Culture Policy among stakeholders, enhance implementation of the Malawi Culture Policy in line with the 2005 Unesco Convention on the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,” Mazibuko said.
The consultations have been made possible with support from Royal Norwegian Government, the Unesco Regional Office for Southern Africa through Malawi National Commission for Unesco.
Unesco’s Christopher Magomero said the establishment of NaHec is of great importance to the creative industry and that there is need to push it.
“There is progress for sure as explained by the government, we need it urgently and now that it is at an advanced stage, we don’t need to make changes now because that will bring in more delays. Changing the name would mean being recalled from Ministry of Justice where it is now,” Magomero said.
Several creatives have emphasised that there is creativity in the country but the challenge is empowerment and that there should be deliberate policies by the government to take arts as a serious career.
“We still have a long way to go on this because society looks at art as ‘zongosangalatsa’. Our friends are making a living out of art and so, we need to position ourselves so that our art can also be sold regionally and globally,” Sand Music Festival Lead Coordinator Nkhwachi Mhango, said.
And yesterday in the consultation for the Central Region held in Lilongwe raised challenges of access to relevant information and shortage of tailor-made infrastructure for arts.
The consultation meeting goes to the Northern Region at Grand Palace in Mzuzu Friday.