Million dollar boost for Zambian arts

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - The easing of lockdown protocols and the provision of a stimulus package by President Edgar Lungu’s government has jumpstarted performing arts and the cinema industry in Zambia.

The coronavirus-induced lockdown that started on March 20 had forced arts organisations - among them Chingola Arts Society, Mufulira Arts Council, Nkana Arts Society (NKAS) and Roan Arts Dramatic Society (RADOS) - to put a halt to productions.

In a recent address to the nation, President Lungu lamented loss of jobs and revenue in the arts sector.

“As a way of starting this work that we must all be engaged into, I have since approved a K30 million (approximately US$1,65 million) youth empowerment scheme targeting artistes countrywide to be launched in Lusaka soon. The National Arts Council under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts will implement this programme.”

Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chattel said the government would establish an Arts Coral Award Fund to help existing and upcoming artists to become self-sufficient.

“President Lungu has personal interest in making sure that every artist thrives in Zambia,” the minister added.

National Arts Council deputy director Patrick Samwimbila encouraged artists, in their individual capacities and not through representative associations, to present project proposals for possible funding.

The National Arts Association of Zambia - which oversees theatre, school drama clubs and choral groups, among other performing artists - welcomed the government’s interest in reviving the sector.

“Clubs should get back to business and ensure that they become innovative during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the association’s chairperson, Eric Kasoma.

COVID-19 has claimed 30 Zambian lives and infected 1,632 people since the virus was first reported in Africa on February 4, 2020.

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