Malawian artists have urged government to take advantage of the forthcoming Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit to promote local art.
Malawi is set to assume the regional bloc’s chairmanship during the 41st Sadc Head of State and Government Summit scheduled for August 2021 in Lilongwe.
Speaking at a round-table discussion for artists with the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma), Lilongwe City Council and Department of Arts and Crafts, poet Q Malewezi emphasised the importance of showcasing Malawi’s talent to delegates during the Summit.
“We want to know how artists will be involved during the summit. Otherwise, more time is spent on bureaucracy than the actual exposure that they need,” he said.
Malewezi said as a country, Malawi does support other sectors without much ado, but artists are not given the same kind of support.
He also asked the department to consider changing its name to reflect the situation on the ground.
“I am also looking forward to hearing of the name change to Department of Creative Industry from Arts and Crafts in the ministry,” said Malewezi.
Events and festival organiser Tammy Mbendera said while government is looking into creating more opportunities through international conferences in Malawi, there is also need to have real interest in the arts.
“We have more door stoppers than gatekeepers who are not welcoming to artists or creatives in Malawi. At any given opportunity, they make the life of an artist unbearable by being stumbling blocks,” she said.
Former Visual Arts Association of Malawi president Chrisford Chayera also called on the Department of Arts and Culture to involve more artists in their plans.
“We have big events in the country both international and local like Independence Day where our services can be used to decorate the roundabouts in the cities or have murals.
“However, we are not part of such because the belief is art is expensive. If our own government believes such, how do we survive then?” wondered Chayera, popularly known as the Mouth Painter.
Chief arts officer in the Ministry of Wildlife, Tourism and Culture Macdonald Maluwaya said this year’s Sadc summit will see Malawian artists being involved more than ever.
He said: “We are fully geared to offer the best of arts and culture to our foreign delegates. There is going to be a lot of visual art displays/exhibitions mounted at the main conference centre Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc).
“While visual art will feature highly, there will also be music, dance, poetry and we may also have some comedy.”
Government and the Sadc secretariat are yet to formally announce dates for this year’s Summit.