Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) is not taking place this year because of lack of funds.
The development follows the expiry of a three-year support agreement with Hivos Foundation of Zimbabwe.
BAF executive director Thom Chibambo said in an interview that, despite moving a begging bowl around, they have not realised anything.
He said: “It is true that we are not doing it this year as we would like to have enough financial resources to maintain people’s expectations. We used to get money in the region of K10-K15 million for the event, but that agreement ended last year.
“We were supposed to, again, apply for another lot of funding, but there was no call for proposals until Hivos Foundation opened an office in Malawi. Automatically, this means we have to be dealing with the local office which is yet to make calls for proposals in the realm of festivals.”
Chibambo said they are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that their relations with Hivos in Zimbabwe would give them the edge.
He expressed optimism that the event—which has been pulling together various arts disciplines—will return next year.
“We bask in the glory of good reputation as we have never mismanaged funds and we will make use of that advantage and our good working relationship with Hivos Foundation to apply to any openings,” said Chibambo.
“BAF accommodates over 20 schools which present various artistic activities in the quest to develop their creativity. BAF also accommodates less privileged youths in the country and allows them to perform at the event.”
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango described the development as a setback.
“I wish we knew earlier and probably something could still have happened on a smaller scale. This is a sad development. Holding these festivals enhances our respect for our cultural values and promotes our identity as Malawians within and beyond borders,” he said.
Some of the celebrated artists that have graced BAF are Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka, Malian Afro-jazz singer Salif Keita and South African gospel diva Rebecca Malope.