The disconnection between the University of Malawi and artists is partly responsible for piles of poor productions in the creative industry, arts expert Dr Robert Chanunkha has said.
Among other things, Chanunkha, music don who heads the department of fine and performing arts at Chancellor College (Chanco), eulogised the vanished choral events and music workshops which used to bring together local artists and others from as far as South Africa, Germany and Britain.
Â “During the workshops, our artists had an opportunity to interact with expatriates. They would connect, share notes and stories, and above all, appreciate one another’s genre. This helped to broaden understanding our musicians,” he said.
He, however, said plans are taking shape to find sustainable funding and to resuscitate the music encounters which flourished at a time the department enjoyed financial support from Unima head office, Kamuzu Academy, the State House and corporate firms such as Sucoma (now Illovo Sugar) and National Bank of Malawi.
The decline of the funding, coupled with the end of a four-year Unicef programme in 2004, led to the disappearance of the workshops, marked by music evenings at Chanco’s Great Hall, Domasi College of Education and Mulunguzi Secondary School in Zomba.
Chanunkha also blamed the influx of half-baked music on lack of control mechanism.
“Elsewhere, there are legal systems and unions that help in controlling quality. Artists go through a series of tests, for them to be someone up to the standards,” said Chanunkha.
He said the transformation of Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) into a union would help address the problem.
Â “A union is powerful. It gets State statute power. It gets registered by the government,” he said.
Dr Chanunkha disclosed that the performing and fine arts department has lined up programmes for artists.
“We will be offering short courses in areas of piracy, marketing, copyright, originality, and many other of greater concern,” he said.
Together with MAM, Chanunkha has been sensitising musicians on effects of piracy.