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School for the Arts item taken to pre-budget talk

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Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) has taken another daring step to present a School for the Arts business case, which is part of the Integrated Arts Development project to the 2023-24 pre-budget consultation meetings.

The minister’s pre-budget meetings started in Blantyre and then Lilongwe and today will be held in Mzuzu.

Cosoma Vice Board Chairperson Ezaius Mkandawire said Thursday that the School for the Arts project is long overdue and that it was high time it commenced.

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“Due to other engagements, we could not present our case in Blantyre and Lilongwe and so, we thought of pitching it in Mzuzu (Friday). We thought of presenting this matter of School for the Arts because it has not been funded since 2016. We were asked to present a business case to the minister and we are hoping for the best,” Mkandawire said.

He said the School for the Arts is vital for the creative sector in that it will provide a holistic approach in addressing the challenge of skills gap within the industry.

“The University of Malawi and Malawi University of Science and Technology under the Bingu School of Culture and Heritage provide some training in arts. However, a majority of practising artists do not have the requisite qualifications to be admitted in the universities,” Mkandawire said.

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He said the establishment of the School for the Arts will provide opportunities to artists, who do not qualify for the training requirements in the universities.

“This will enhance artists’ skills to venture into profitable arts related businesses,” Mkandawire said.

He said the National Transformation Agenda 2063 under pillar number three and enabler five identifies creative arts as an accelerator to enhancing knowledge, skills and abilities for creative people as a career to compete at international level as well as boost tourism.

Mkandawire further said that a study conducted by the government through Cosoma in collaboration with National Statistics Office and United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) in 2013, concluded that the economic contribution of copyright-based industries in the country was at about 3.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said the School for the Arts shall be one of the investments in the capacity building of the artists’ technical and entrepreneurial skills adding that the technical and entrepreneurial abilities shall enable the artists to produce quality artistic and cultural Malawian products.

“The society has not succeeded in soliciting financial support from the government for the establishment of the school and the last time the society received subvention was in 1997,” Mkandawire said.

He said the society envisages that the project can be financially supported through direct funding from the government, retention of five percent from blank media levy and donor funding.

The move by the copyright body also comes barely four days after rightsholder associations also called upon treasury to allocate sufficient funding to Department of Arts in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife during the pre-budget consultation in Blantyre.

In a related development Film Association of Malawi (Fama) also presented its contribution to the finance minister as regards arts for economic development in Lilongwe at the 2023/2024 pre-budget consultations.

Fama President Gift Sukez Sukali said they were happy to have made their contribution during the pre-budget consultations.

He said through their contribution, they alerted the minister on the potential of the film industry and other artistic disciplines and the significant contribution of the creative sector to GDP.

“We have asked the Ministry of Finance to consider putting aside a package of not less than K3 billion for a start in this financial year to cater for production of cultural films among others,” Sukali said.

Fama President Gift Sukez Sukali said they were happy to have made their contribution during the pre-budget consultations.

He said through their contribution, they alerted the minister on the potential of the film industry and other artistic disciplines and the significant contribution of the creative sector to GDP.

“We have asked the Ministry of Finance to consider putting aside a package of not less than K3 billion for a start in this financial year to cater for production of cultural films among others,” Sukali said.

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