No matter how bad a situation can be, still there are positives that can be derived from it.
The global Covid-19 pandemic caused untold suffering to the human race for close to three years. The pandemic shook up the social order and overturned the economies of the biggest nations on earth. Today, nations are still reeling from such devastation.
In Malawi, the situation was not any different. The country bled from the effects of the disease in many fronts. So many sectors could hardly hold their own as they were almost grounded to a halt.
One of those seriously affected was the art industry. With outdoor events suspended for a good nine months at some point, the artists could hardly breathe as their source of income were severed.
Here was an industry in doldrums. It needed to give itself a fresh impetus to tick. The options were few and pointing to one direction. That direction was to try and step in a route that has been tried before. Online live performances were the only answer.
The heavy costs of internet data coupled with its unfamiliarity were some of the biggest challenges that the artists had to surmount before establishing the niche as just a normal act. I remember Q Malewezi under his Kweza Arts, Piksy and others were among the first to try out virtual performances.
The results in terms of response were not encouraging. Still the brigade did not give up. They had to find a way to make the phenomenon sink in people. More players jumped on the bandwagon and slowly the numbers started to peak.
Today, live online performances are no longer an alien indulgence as was the case two or three years ago before Covid-19 reared its ugly head on humanity. The wave that establishments such as Mikozi Online and Mibawa TV have led with online live performances is amazing.
Almost week in and week out we are witnessing online performances from a number of artists. And the way music lovers have warmed up to the concept is encouraging. The most amazing thing is that the executors have managed to monetise the spaces so that artists earn something.
With sponsors of the performances on board, artists are able to make money that they would not manage to in some instances when they hold live shows. There is little capital investment when holding online shows unlike the physical shows.
Additionally, you cut on the possibilities of people misappropriating the gate collections and others accessing the performances for free. Cumulatively, these factors have worked to the advantage of both the artists and event organisers.
Now the biggest task is to work on courting more sponsors for the virtual shows. It is an area that is attracting huge traffic in terms of followership. That should give an edge to the event organisers to lay their case before potential sponsors so they can come on board.
If we are to get the quality that we want from the industry, we have to make concerted efforts to ensure our artists are well-paid. Art just like anything else is an investment which requires capitalisation.
We can’t sit here and continue to criticise and demand more from our artists before we enable them with the necessary tools. Let all stakeholders show the necessary commitment in trying to elevate the status of the industry. Covid-19 showed us the way, now let us build on that.