FUMBA Chama says the absence of a study to understand the gaps in the arts industry may result in the government feeding a dying horse.
Commenting on the Presidential Arts Development and Empowerment Scheme, Chama, known to many as PILATO (People in Lyrical Arena Taking Over) said before planting the ‘seed’ the Ministry of Arts should have prepared the ground.
He said one cannot plant their most valued seeds in the desert just because they are available.
Chama indicated that he is not interested in the presidential ‘bribe’ and did not apply for it.
“I have continued to receive calls from media institutions and ordinary citizens asking me for my opinion on the disbursement of funds to artists yesterday,” Chama said. “I have before on this platform shared about how I was not interested in the presidential bribe and I still hold that view. I did not apply and I am very much at peace with my soul today. However, allow me to share what I strongly feel should have been done to effectively address the economic challenges that we face in this country as artists.”
He said the first step in finding a solution to any problem lies in its correct diagnosis and that failure to do so would result in the failure to find an effective solution.
“The first thing that I feel the Ministry of [Tourism] and Arts could have done before planting any seed was to prepare the ground. You cannot plant your most valued seeds in the desert just because they are available. The ministry could have first of all carried out a study to understand the gaps in the arts industry which could have informed where exactly the industry needed a financial boost,” Chama said. “The absence of this study may result in the government feeding a dying horse. A research would have helped identify where the problem was and what it was. It could have also informed the ministry of the available artistic talents and their economic viability.”
He said the ministry needed to create the ecosystem that would promote, protect and profit the artiste and the government.
He said such was key in ensuring sustainability of the projects being funded today.
“If the environment is not conducive for a business, it makes it hard for the business to grow. So, do a research on why the arts in Zambia do not make money as others in other countries. Secondly, do a talent mapping; take stock of what talents are available in the country and the available market,” he said. “This is important because different artistic abilities need different interventions and for most, money is just one component. Dare to understand what is available and what is lacking.”
Chama, who is also a musician and poet, said to assume that only artistes can develop the arts industry was a mistake that would continue to traumatise “our creative economy”.
He said one’s ability to produce a good song does not automatically mean they can manage the artistic business.
“The ministry could have broadened the call to allow for qualified yet non-artistes with the capacity to run art businesses successfully. Not even the best football teams are owned and run by footballers. It is the collective power of abilities, skills and talents that makes every industry work,” said Chama. “I ask myself, is the music industry where it is today because we do not have the best PA system? The answer is nope. The existing PA systems by the few Zambians are struggling to make profits and run sustainably because the demand is not huge. How then does the government spend so much money on proposals to buy the PA systems (Public Address Systems) when the existing ones are hardly active?”