Youths in the arts sector have been urged to make use of the Covid-19 pandemic to diversify their income-generating projects to survive and remain relevant.
These sentiments were raised by renowned poet Albert Nyathi at the Matabeleland North Youth in Arts Mentorship and Empowerment program hosted by 4-H Zimbabwe and Shangano Arts Trust on Friday.
Artists who graced the virtual programme bemoaned how they are struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic which has also negatively affected them.
In response, Nyathi alluded to how everyone is suffering and forced to adapt to survive.
“The situation is hard for all of us, let’s diversify sources of income, and try projects like chicken rearing, and gardening that can be done in the comfort of your home. People are dying so don’t risk catching the disease but still maintain being productive,” Nyathi said.
He added: “This is a time to write about anything that inspires you, to polish your art, rehearse, look at yourself in the mirror and when we come out of this you would have perfected your art, work online, adapt.”
Sungano Chisina head of business unit at the Zimbabwe Youth Council also alluded to such and encouraged youth to take up the challenge and help use their talents to disseminate important information in their different communities to reduce the spread of the pandemic and provide comfort for the nation.
“Use your creativity to help comfort those who have lost their loved ones and others trying to overcome the disease. You can also communicate the relevant information circulated by the government in our local communities through arts, so put together your scripts and come up with ideas for even when this pandemic is over. Assist in the dissemination of such vital information by use of available mediums of communication, such as online galas,” he said.
He added that there is a need to acknowledge the untapped potential amongst youth in the arts and culture sector that has been side-lined in favour of other sectors.
“Shangano Trust in partnership with 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation appreciates the need to facilitate nurturing and mentorship of the youth in the sector so that they can participate and contribute positively in the development of the country”, Petros Ndhlovu, Shangano Trust Director said.
Artists face challenges that include lack of exposure but the Zimbabwe Youth Council official encouraged artists to register their clubs and trusts and also start working in their communities and be known from the community level.
“Institutions like the National Arts Council and the ministry should invest in creating such platforms. Businesses should also be open for youngsters to help expose them. Many have been exposed through their persistence, don’t sit back and wait for opportunity. Stand out, be there, I perform even at weddings don’t disregard such opportunities,” Nyathi said.
One of the participants is successfully using arts to reach out to Hwange communities through Vostile Creatives Trust that focuses on environmental awareness, preservation of culture, and recently focusing on Covid-19 messages and experiences.
Malvern Daka, director for Vostile Creatives Trust said, “Our engagement drive is working, working with communities. Last year we worked on ‘my Covid-19 experience’ track and mainstreaming sexual and reproductive health rights to young people, and we use WhatsApp chat groups since physical dissemination of information is not recommended,” Daka said.
4-H Zimbabwe launched an ongoing mentorship programme for upcoming youth in different sectors. The process is informed by the Youth for Youth approach which will be used to identify individuals who have excelled in different sectors to mentor fellow upcoming youth counterparts in their respective sectors.
The intervention in arts will thus focus on the individual development of artists, from self-presentation, self-talent identification, management of proceeds from the initiatives.