Tuesday, 17 March 2020

CORONAVIRUS HITS ARTISTS


THE coronavirus that has hit the world and the region, is affecting Zimbabwean artistes as most of their international tours have been cancelled leading to loss of business.

 Covid-19 has significantly impacted arts and culture programming internationally, having implications on mobility, access to public spaces and the flow of cultural goods and services.

The US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency as there have been at least 61 deaths, so did his Canadian counterpart Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who on Sunday said he would not rule out closing borders to combat a coronavirus outbreak. Italy, the worst affected European country, has recorded more than 1 800 Coronavirus-related deaths so far and expects some 90 000 infections by the end of April. Zimbabwe has not recorded a case of Covid-19.
  
Imbube outfit Black Umfolosi, Iyasa, Insingizi, Winky D, Freeman, Mambo Dhuterere and ExQ are among artistes whose tours to the United Kingdom, Canada and United States of America have been cancelled due to the spread of Coronavirus.

 One of the Black Umfolosi leaders, Sotja Moyo said they are devastated after their international tour was cancelled because of the virus.

“Our booking has been cancelled until further notice. We were supposed to travel to the United Kingdom, USA and Canada. But all that has been stopped because of the Coronavirus.

“Our agents are saying perhaps they can push our performances to November thereabout. We shall see,” said Moyo. He said this was a huge blow to their careers as they rely a lot on tours.

“The financial setback with regards to the cancellation is massive. As the world markets are also counting their losses, we too are counting our losses. We rely so much on this money from the tours.”

Butholezwe Nyathi, the director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo said their resident artists sell most of their craft to tourists and as such will be greatly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the dwindling tourist arrivals means reduced sales for the artists.

“It means loss of business for aristes who thrive on selling their works to tourists and the Gallery also thrives on numbers,” said Nyathi.

Visual artist, George Masarira said since the outbreak of Coronavirus his sales had dropped drastically. 

“We get money from tourists but they aren’t coming to the gallery of late. Those who send us money from overseas also can’t do so because of the lockdown in the Western world,” Masarira said.

Artistes such as Iyasa are also on the edge as their four-month tour of Europe is hanging in the balance. Their base Austria has banned all public gatherings, closed schools, universities and people are being encouraged to stay at home meaning they are going to be inactive for some time. Those found violating the law will be fined in excess of €2000.

Italy, where Austria-based Insingizi Imbube trio was set to perform, is the worst affected. The country has been put on lockdown.

In South Africa, President Ramaphosa on Sunday night, declared a national state of disaster, imposing travel bans on some nationals, shutting schools and banning public gatherings of more than 100 people. Some festivals across the Limpopo have been postponed or cancelled. Cape Town International Jazz Festival which was supposed to take place next week is among the events which have been affected.

In the kingdom of ESwatini, the MTN Bushfire Festival which was slated for May 28-30  has been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus.

In the United Kingdom, the Y2K Promotions Sama festival which features a series of local artistes, has been postponed. The show which was supposed to take place next month would have featured Winky D, Mambo Dhuterere, Freeman, ExQ and Baba Harare.  Chronicle

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