Vaam bemoans funding gaps


Visual Arts Association of Malawi (Vaam) has said that lack of funding was the biggest challenge faced in 2017, a development that forced it to postpone implementation of some of its planned programmes.
Vaam Pres ident, Mike Chilemba, said yesterday that they tried to source funds from different sources but were not successful.
“We did not succeed to get any financial support from donors except funding from Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) Cultural Support Scheme which was phased out. With the Cultural Support Scheme, we managed to do a number of things, including reviewing our constitution,” Chilemba said.
The Cultural Support Scheme, driven by Cosoma but supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy, was phased out and now artists have to rely on the Cultural Fund Malawi.
Cultural Support Scheme supported several arts associations in the country, most notably the payment of rentals at Claim Mabuku House in Blantyre.
Following its phasing out, many arts associations have failed to pay rentals and there was a suggestion that they move and occupy offices at the Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC).
But the move failed to materialise as the government is yet to rehabilitate the offices at the facility.
The rehabilitation of BCC is moving at a snail’s pace.
Chilemba said Vaam will be meeting soon to discuss feasible activities.
“We will soon meet to reflect on which feasible activities we can carry out in the short and long term as stipulated in our strategic plan. So, we will make sure that we secure funding from both the private and public sectors,” he said.
Vaam has failed to stand out, playing second fiddle to other art fields in the country.
The association has also relied heavily on festivals to give its members the platform to showcase their artworks. Ironically, Vaam does not have its own festival.
He said, despite facing challenges, the body managed to fly some of its members outside the country to showcase their works and fly Malawi’s flag.
“We managed to send some members outside the country, and these include former Vaam president Chrisford Chayera, who exhibited his works in Japan,” he said.
“Again, Vaam Vice President Gilbert Mpakule went to Asia on an art residency programme and our recent export is Kenneth Namalomba, who is in United States of America,” he said.
Chilemba congratulated artists for putting Malawi on the global map.
“I just want to urge artists, mainly Vaam members, to desist from always waiting for someone to bail them out [of problems] both materially and financially. We have to fight to get the spot; second, we must be aware that the spirit of individualism stagnates the growth of groupings. So, we need to unite and work together,” he said.

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