The absence of an arts policy continues to repel Malawiâ€™s business entities from investing in the arts.
In an exclusive interview, acting president of the Arterial Network Malawi, Thom Chibambo, said the draft policy gathering dust at Capital Hill has left Malawi arts weakened.
The policy was drafted during the founding president Kamuzu Bandaâ€™s one-party rule in the 1980s. It came shortly after a presidential decree creating the Department of Arts, but is yet to be tabled in the National Assembly.
By contrast, various policies created laterâ€”including those on communication, HIV and Aids, early childhood development and disabilityâ€”have gone through the august House.
â€œIn Malawi, people can invest in anything they want without saying what they will do as a corporate responsibility towards the arts. But companies operating in the country should have a legal framework to know they have to do something for the underestimated industry,â€ said Chibambo, who is also director for The Warehouse Cultural Centre and Blantyre Arts Festival.
In South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, for instance, he said, companies are obliged to sponsor the arts.
Ethnomusicologist Waliko Makhala said the policy must be fine-tuned before it is taken to Parliament.
â€œA lot has changed since the first draft. Democratisation, decentralisation and the Internet are some of the changes that need to be reflected in the policy,â€ said Makhala.
But in what is generally termed as tragedy of the creative sector, even law-makers and Cabinet ministers who owe their beginnings to the arts have ignored the policy.