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Why Networking, Collaboration Is Important For Local Artists

Networking and collaborations made IYASA brand what it is today.

BY THABANI H. MOYO | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | APR 1, 2021

To propagate their skills and their businesses, Matabeleland artists need to interact and collaborate, writes Thabani H. Moyo.

MATABELELAND (The Citizen Bulletin) — A child who does not travel will always think their mother is the best cook, goes an African proverb.

Equally true, an artist who just stays in his line will always think they are the best in their craft and they know it all.

In this instalment, we will focus on networking and creating synergies.

There is a need for open mindedness in the circles of arts. Currently the sector is divided according to genres, stables and egos.

It is normal to find comedians, thespians, musicians, poets, writers, painters and sculptors sticking to their known groups and not mixing.

This sectarianism limits artists in terms of coming up with new projects. It will be interesting to see how a short film maker from Plumtree can collaborate with a theatre producer in Hwange to come up with a new product that synthesizes the two art forms.

Audiences would love to consume a work of art that synthesises imbube and hip hop music. In 2016 the Poet Philani Amadeus Nyoni collaborated with Naughty By Nature to produce Diary of Madness which infused Theatre, Film and Poetry. The experiment was very successful. Collaborations and Networks can bring about new and amazing products through experimenting with new ideas but we feel local artists are currently reluctant to try out new arts formats.

They forget that doing the same thing the same way will never get you new results.  It will seem that our artists are reluctant to network and collaborate because they look down upon each other. Vusa Mkhaya recently collaborated with Bulawayo artists and they produced a beautiful piece about Bulawayo. More of these are needed.

The appreciation of the next creative seems to be lacking. It is time for all Matabeleland artists to bracket preconceived ideas and prejudices that they might be having towards each other.

Instead, they must reach out and be willing to learn new skills. However, in reaching out, creatives need to develop a good mind-set. Good intentions should be the backbone of networking and collaboration. Iyasa is one good example of an arts organisation that has collaborated with local artists like Khuxxman, Skuza, Jah Prayzah with good outcomes. Iyasa has gone on to network with theatre groups in Europe.

The Iyasa brand is what it is today because of the networks that it has managed to create. Iyasa has managed to produce works like Mother Africa and Black and White Aren’t no colours were a result of networking.  

That sense of picking out well-meaning collaborations should be cultivated and guarded against linking with creatives whose sole agenda is to destroy. There are some artists who are out to harvest information from others and use it to their advantage.

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Dishonesty is one of the cancers that are eating our creatives. So, even though networking is good for the arts industry to thrive there is always that need to be careful about who you are choosing to network with. Many associations like Bulawayo Association of Drama Groups have come up and collapsed because of lack of trust. Some associations just exist as briefcase entities.

Deceitfulness leads to quarrels and abandonment of very promising projects. We have those artists who are already high up there but seem not willing to pull others along. This stagnates artistic growth within the region. When an artist lifts those around them they also lift themselves up in the process.

Networking has depository and withdrawal effects. By working with others you prepare the ground for future projects. Those who watch soccer will tell you of a famous “you will never walk alone” song.

Working together for collective success must be encouraged in our region. It's not only limited to creating new plays, songs but also involves putting project proposals to different organisations and funders. As a region Matabeleland needs something in the format of Arterial Networks where creative from different genres come together for a purpose of sharing opportunities.

Networking is as old as humanity and today artists can take advantage of advancement in the area of communication. Individualism and self-serving approaches will never bring the much desired success in the local arts industry.