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Visual Arts Association of Malawi calls for unity

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Visual Arts Association of Malawi (Vaam) has called for unity among its members, saying they should work as a team.

Vaam President, Mike Chilemba, said the executive cannot function on its own but it can only bear fruits if members share ideas and come up with different ideas.

“Members have to come together; Vaam is not for Mike Chilemba alone or the executive but for all the members. If it has to make headway then we all have to come out and present our ideas,” Chilemba said.

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He also urged members to pay their membership for the association to continue functioning effectively.

“At the moment, we have a challenge because artists are not forthcoming as far as paying membership is concerned. We need them to pay membership so that it can help us run some of the activities,” Chilemba said.

But some artists have come out to hit at Vaam and its leadership through social media, saying it is a dead association that is failing to even hold its own exhibition.

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Some artists said the national executive has been idle since it took office and that there is nothing to show.

“Let’s be honest, Vaam is a dead association with nothing to show. Something really needs to be done,” said one of the artists.

But while admitting that they have not been vibrant as far as holding exhibitions is concerned, Chilemba said they have put all this in their strategic programme and that very soon they will come out with exhibitions.

“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is funding. You need money to hold exhibitions and it’s not a matter of just holding exhibitions but hosting successful and better exhibitions that will bring out results,” the Vaam president said.

He said as Vaam they were happy that some artists have been coming out to hold exhibitions, citing 265 Art Block.

“We welcome groups such as 265 Art Block. They are doing a very good job. Actually as an artist I am also part of this group. We as Vaam will always support such initiatives but all we can ask is for them in to work with one voice and accommodate all artists,” Chilemba said.

He said they have been on the ground writing different proposals but have not been successful.

“We would like to thank Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) which has been there giving us support through the Cultural Support Scheme funded by Royal Norwegian Embassy. We are also exploring other means,” he said.

Vaam is one of the associations which continue to play second fiddle to other arts fields despite having a lot in its plate.

Chilemba has since called on people in the country as well as companies and organisations to support visual artists by buying their works.

“We need to change our mentality; in most cases when we have exhibitions all you get are people from outside who buy our works. Our works are not only meant for people from outside; they are also meant for Malawians so the best is to buy so as to decorate our homes,” he said.

Chilemba also said it is high time institutions in the country started utilising works by local visual artists.

“It is unfortunate that when you go to some of these institutions all you get on the walls are artworks from foreign artists and yet we have the best works from Malawian artists. Let us embrace the Buy Malawian concept,” he said.

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