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World Poetry Day

Pam leader bemoans lack of support

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MDALLA—We have spoken about the Arts
and Heritage Council for years

Poetry Association of Malawi (Pam) President Chisomo Mdalla, popularly known as Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa, Sunday expressed his disappointment with the way art is treated in the country, saying there is little support from the government.

He cited the current situation where the masses are in need of information on Covid vaccine and yet the creative sector, as one of the proper tools for communication and awareness, has not been utilised.

“As artists let us call a spade a spade, art has been neglected for longtime in the country and it is high time things changed. Today, as we celebrate World Poetry Day, I want to ask the government to give art attention,” Mdalla said.

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He described the creative sector as key when it comes to driving messages to the masses using various art disciplines such as poetry but they have been neglected.

He said the lack of respect for the arts is also shown through the poor funding that the Department of Arts in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife receives.

“The whole Department of Arts in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife gets a low budget, this is sad for sure. We are tired of saying this and action needs to be taken,” he said.

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Mdalla also said the creative sector has suffered greatly with the effects of Covid.

“Poetry for example is a performative art but all our spaces are closed due to Covid. We were asked to channel proposals in August to help in Covid awareness but nothing has come out. We have a line ministry which should be concerned with the issue,” the poet said.

He said, with the country in need of more updates for Covid vaccine and communication, raising awareness would have been priotised.

He said many of the arts associations are operating without proper structures ever since the Cultural Support Scheme from Royal Norwegian Embassy phased out.

“We have ended up failing to get support from donors in the absence of structures. The government promised us offices at Blantyre Cultural Centre but we are still waiting,” Mdalla said.

Recently in Parliament Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi in his speech admitted that Covid has greatly affected tourism and hospitality sector as well as the creative industry.

He said he was confident that the sectors which have shown resilience this time, would bounce back both locally and globally once measures are lifted.

Usi also said that his ministry is finalising the review of five bills namely National Arts and Heritage Council Bill, Museums and Heritage Bill, National Records, Archives and Printed Publications Bill, The Classification of Films; and the Public Entertainment Bill.

With Covid, the World Poetry Day passed without activities in the country, with many poets in the country taking to social media to celebrate the day.

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