When the Cultural Support Scheme (CSS) came to an end in December last year, it was difficult to look at artists whose organisations had turned from office owners to office seekers without being overcome by the feeling of pity.
But National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) president, Eric Mabedi, ‘learned’ a lesson in that moment of gloom: Lack of entrepreneurship skills leaves artists at the mercy of donors’ good will, as opposed to their own will.
Moving forward, Mabedi would like to see financially-empowered arts associations.
“The Cultural Support Scheme had been in Malawi for 10 years. Last month, we were briefed about the ending of the Cultural [Support] Scheme. That was my first meeting [as Ntam leader] and time to hear about it. We cried but, for 10 years, we should have learned entrepreneurship and be able to sustain our activities,” Mabedi said on Saturday.
Mabedi, a name synonymous with theatre in Malawi, said such problems (as crying over donor funding) would be a thing of the past if players in the industry embraced theatre marketing.
Last month, Malawi Writers Union president, Sambalikagwa Mvona, bemoaned the phasing out of the CSS Mvona said associations such as his had up to December to clear their offices and find self-funded office space.
“We only have this month [to remain in our offices]”, Mvona said, asking Culture Minister Patricia Kaliati to bail arts associations out.
However, Book Publishers Association of Malawi president, Alfred Msadala, told The Daily Times last month that his association had sourced funds for office space from other sources, hence it would not be affected by the development.
However, it is not doom and groom for artists as the Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries and The Royal Norwegian Embassy launched a K3.8 billion (Euro 481,313) cultural fund in May 2016.
Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Kikkan Haugen, indicated during the launch that the Culture Fund for Malawi— which replaced the (CSS)— would strengthen the cultural sector in Malawi.
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