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What a year 2015 in the arts

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Exit 2015 and enter 2016. What a year 2015 was to the creative industry who worked so hard to stand out.

It was a year where some artists shined while others failed to stand out and have to pull up their socks in the year 2016.

The year 2015 saw the government allocating K100 million to the creative industry which has in the past years been depending on funding from the Cultural Support Scheme funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

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The year saw Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) celebrating its 20th anniversary since it was established. The body started with a few members but to date it has several members.

The writers’ body still has a long way to go to help propel writing in the country which has failed to produce the fruits on the international front.

The body maintained its stance of holding different competitions aimed at motivating writers including rewarding veteran writers through the Legendary Awards.

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They also managed to award writers in the Peer Gynt Awards and Mawu/FMB Awards.

Writers such as Alfred Msadala did well launching a book and he also received a Supreme Council of Culture Award in Cairo, Egypt in June.

Visual Arts Association of Malawi (Vaam) also has a long way to go to stand out as it failed to hold exhibitions although there were a few artists who stood out and participated in the Malawi/ Germany Symposium under the theme Myths of Malawi.

In the year 2015, poetry continued to stand out attracting huge audiences during its gatherings and poets continued to produce albums.

Some of the notable poets who made strides include Robert Chiwamba who launched his new album titled Kwa Mai Chiwamba and Sylvester Kalizang’oma who made history launching a DVD for his album Unkalindanji Moyo.

In the theatre front, several drama groups were grounded failing to stitch productions with a few managing to sail through and these included Nanzikambe, Solomonic Peacocks, Lions Theatre and Kwathu Drama Group.

National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) despite holding some capacity building programmes, it had little to show in the year and needs to do more in 2016.

The film industry also made strides in the year with several film makers coming out with movies some of which got nominations in different international platforms but also screened in international film festivals.

Some of the films that came out in the year 2015 include Where My Heart Belongs written by Kendall Kamwendo of the music duo Symon and Kendall fame and Mwayi Wotsiriza by Theatre International.

It was also a year Film Association of Malawi (Fama) hosted a festival and this truly showed growth although there is still room for improvement.

With the country’s artists still struggling to have their content on Dstv, a new channel known as Zambezi Magic was launched in the year and has since been showing content from Southern Africa including Malawi.

The creative industry has a platform now to show its content and artists need to dig deeper to earn space on the channel which currently shows the country’s soap titled Choices.

The channel has already shown film maker Shemu Joyah’s movies The Last Fishing Boat and Seasons of a Life.

On the music front, artists continued to produce albums and singles and some of the artists which produced albums in the year include Lucius Banda (Thank You), Black Missionaries (Kuimba 10), and Allan Ngumuya (Osankhidwa Ake) and Patience Namadingo’s (Lero).

With all this said, musicians need to do more to produce quality songs and penetrate the international market and this also includes performances in international festivals.

In the year 2015, musician Agorosso received an award in Austria in May known as African Heroes Baobab Award.

Several other artists have also received nominations in the year 2015 including Piksy (Kora Award), Dan Kalima (Afrima Awards), actress Joyce Mhango Chavula (Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCAs) and Zomba Prison Music Project (Grammy Awards).

This is special for Malawi and signs are there that we can do it, we just need to keep pushing and strive for the best.

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