The country’s arts and culture development is far from being achieved owing to a long history of poor funding and allocation of resources to the sector by the government.
The country’s rights holder associations made the observation in their reaction to the 2022/23 National Budget which Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe presented in Parlianment on Friday.
In an interview, Ron Muphuwa, rights holder associations’ task force committee chairperson said:
“From what we have seen, government has allocated K559 million for the creative industry which is not enough to lay the much-needed foundation for achieving milestones laid down in Malawi 2063. In our view, the amount allocated is very small as 72 percent is for development projects. The small balance of 28 percent is for implementing other day to day operations aimed at assisting in promoting the growth of the creative industry.”
He said artists had great expectations that government would provide for funds that would help in creating a flagship programme for promoting artists, a Malawi arts and culture or heritage day where various
artists and heritage groups would showcase Malawi art and culture.
Muphuwa described the budget allocation for the creatives as “peanuts” which have by far not met the expectations of local artists.
“Throughout the year, we have been lobbying the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs as well as Treasury to consider providing finances that would ensure the promotion of arts and culture in the country.
“We attended the pre-budget consultations and made our position clear that we felt it was high time the government walked the talk and financed the creative and heritage industry to economically empower artists in the country, and also promote tourism. But what we have received at the end of the day is not convincing,” he said.
Among others, Muphuwa said the country’s creative industry needs a good budget to construct state-of-the-art theatres in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where artists and cultural entities can showcase their talents and earn much needed revenue.
He added: “Priority should also have been given to the completion of Blantyre Cultural Centre which has taken long to be rehabilitated. Our expectation is that apart from hosting various performances, the centre will also offer office accommodation for all rights holder associations.”
The country’s rights holder associations include Musicians Union of Malawi, National Theatre Association of Malawi, Poetry Association of Malawi, Filmmakers Association of Malawi, Writers Union of Malawi, Malawi Union of Academic and Non-fiction Authors (Muana), Visual Arts Association of Malawi, Photographers Association of Malawi and Book Publishers Association of Malawi.
Commenting on the development, one of the country’s veteran actors and film directors Sir Ian Evans Chitsekula said Tonse Alliance government is the last hope for the country’s creatives.
“We have cried for a long time. We have been sidelined for a long time and, of course, we have been despised for a long time too. But this government is our only hope to change things.
Meanwhile, artists want the National Arts and Heritage Bill to be presented in Parliament and be passed into law.