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Creatives demand share of festival money

In a statement, BCC corporate communications officer, Nesisa Mpofu said this year’s Bulawayo Day and BAF budget were pegged at US$30 000 instead of the US$300 000 that came out in the media.

MATABELELAND Cultural Awards (MCA) has demanded that the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) share the much publicised Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF) funds among cultural groups that usually host festivals in the city rather than to direct it to BAF only.

This was after BCC recently released the correct budget of US$30 000 for this year's BAF after the media earlier on reported that the council wanted to budget US$300 000 towards BAF, which was opposed by the city mayor David Coltart.

A resolution of council on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, was that the BCC  commemorates Bulawayo Day on June 1 and BAF week from June 2-5 annually from 2020.

In a statement, BCC corporate communications officer, Nesisa Mpofu said this year’s Bulawayo Day and BAF budget were pegged at US$30 000 instead of the US$300 000 that came out in the media.

“The budget for the 2024 Bulawayo Day and Bulawayo Arts Festival is US$30 000 instead of US$300 000 alluded to in some media reports and this budget includes the cost of venues as council’s contribution and charges across various municipal departments,” Mpofu said.

However, following the revelations, MCA chief executive officer Philani Ncube questioned who was behind the BAF.

“We see everybody in the city of Bulawayo talking about the arts festival whereby BCC used to pay out US$30 000,” he said.

“We are saying at the Matabeleland Cultural Awards who is BAF and who are behind BAF? We, as MCA, formed in 2017 for the purpose of helping revive culture and keep it in Matebeleland as a whole, are saying where is this money going to BAF only? “We also host a festival called Umthwente International Cultural Expo every year in Bulawayo. We are still struggling financially, but we are seeing money being allocated to BAF, this really raises eyebrows to the residents of Bulawayo. We are saying let's share that money. Our position is let that money be shared among organisations that also organise cultural festivals."

Mpofu said the BAF was budgeted for in the city's 2024 budget under the festivals and recreational activities line item which caters for various activities which also include the youth festival, youth training programmes under recreational services and participation at exhibitions.

 An activity such as BAF draws national and international attention, supports agendas that promote and develop arts and culture.

Mpofu invited various stakeholders, arts and culture practitioners and the corporate world to partner in this year's BAF where cultural rights in their diverse manifestations occupy a place of pride. This year's  programme will include a range of exciting activities, which include the Bulawayo Day celebrations on June 1, headlined by a street carnival, world bicycle day commemorations, smart mobility initiative, and the KoNtuthu Legends Concert.

 Other festival activities include a gospel concert, various workshops such as the dance workshops, arts economy workshop and the Inxwala Lecture series.

School children are also invited to participate through the schools cultural showcase and spelling bee competitions organized by the Bulawayo Junior City Council. The festival will close with the Imbokodo Concert — an all-female artists’ concert on  June 5.

June 1 was declared Bulawayo Day because it is the anniversary of the declaration of Bulawayo as a town and seeks to provide an opportunity to invite the people of Bulawayo in celebration of the distinct and proud heritage, rich diversity and artistic potential that the city is endowed with.

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