National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) was created through an Act of Parliament in 1985 and has been ‘Championing’ the promotion and development of the arts sector by providing support, initiating arts programmes and forging partnerships with key stakeholders in the arts and culture sector.
NACZ has a Head Office which is housed in Harare and Murewa Culture Centre at Murewa Centre. NACZ also has 10 offices country wide in the Provincial capitals to ensure that it interacts and share ideas with artists and arts & culture organisations for the development and promotion of the sector. The provincial offices have at least a Provincial Arts Manager and a Programme Officer who ensures that NACZ roles and functions are fulfilled. Murewa Culture Centre can also offer specialised workshops and arts-in-residencies.
The main function of National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) is to foster, develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and practice of the arts and their presentation, performance, execution and the exhibition of the same to various publics.
According to the Act, Part III Para 15, the functions of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe shall be;
a) to foster, develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and practise of the arts in Zimbabwe by encouraging the teaching and practise of the arts and their presentation, performance, execution and exhibition to the public;
b) to advise and co-operate with the Government, local authorities, registered arts organizations, or any other societies, organizations, associations, groups or other bodies or individuals in any matter concerned directly or indirectly with the arts and the teachings or practise thereof
c) make a grant in aid or provide any other form of financial assistance to registered arts organisation engaged in or concerned with the practise or teaching of any particular art or its presentation, performance, execution or exhibition to the public;
d) incur any other expenditure in promoting the development and improvement of the knowledge, understanding or practise of any particular art;
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS THAT GIVE A GLIMPSE OF HOW NACZ HAS MANAGED TO FULFIL ITS MAJOR FUNCTIONS.
The work of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe in fulfilling its role of promoting and developing the industry can only be best captured by events that have been happening in the industry in the past decade. The highlights of the growth and importance of the arts and culture sector has been shown by the following;
i. In 2001, NACZ was the founding member of International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) in Canada. This has helped the Council remain connected to the international community through link with IFACCA. Zimbabwe assisted in the formation of all the Arts Councils in SADC countries and recently in the formation of the IFACCA African Chapter with the inaugural meeting of the Chapter hosted by NACZ in April 2010.
ii. In 2001/2 NACZ created programmes like National Arts Merit Awards, Jikinya Dance Festival, Culture Week among many programmes to promote the arts in Zimbabwe. These programmes have encouraged corporates, bi-lateral and multi-lateral partners to invest more funds into the arts and culture sector in Zimbabwe and helped in the Council audience building agenda.
iii. In 2003, NACZ successfully lobbied government to gazette Statutory Instrument 136 of 2003 that allows artists to import musical, broadcasting, recording and PA Systems duty free. This has over the years changed the face of the arts and culture in Zimbabwe as it has led to growth of theatre, films television and music sectors. However, there are still two arts and culture sectors that NACZ would like to ensure they enjoy the same privileges namely visual and literary arts
iv. In 2003, NACZ with the support of the captains in the arts and culture sector caused the creation of the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, a funding body created supported by funds from SIDA.
v. In 2003, NACZ came up with the policy of Provincial Arts Festival in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe. The first provincial arts festival created as a result of this policy by NACZ was Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo in 2004 and subsequently many such festivals have now been established in all the provinces of Zimbabwe. To date there are over 35 arts festivals in Zimbabwe.
vi. National Arts Council of Zimbabwe coordinated the successful proclamation of Jerusarema/Mbende Traditional Dance as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the Director General of UNESCO in November 2005. Murewa Culture House was declared the centre of the dance. This has allowed Jerusarema/Mbende dancers to get world recognition and UNESCO will support financially and technically efforts by Zimbabwe to preserve its costume, form and style. In addition, NACZ has since established a successful annual Jerusarema Mbende Dance Festival that is hosted at Murewa Culture Centre and attracting school children and the public in performance and audience. This has helped in bring goodwill and economic benefits to Murewa and UMP Communities.
vii. NACZ successfully took over the running of Murewa Culture Centre with effect from 1st January 2006. This decision has allowed artists to effectively use the centre more productively as the centre has become more accessible to the artists and community.
viii. NACZ lobbied Government to come up with Act that protects the works of the artists in Zimbabwe leading to the passing of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (Chapter 26:05) in 2004. This has improved the protection of artists from piracy. What is remaining is the establishment of the Copyright Tribunal that will efficiently and quickly deal with copyright infringement and thereby reduce the piracy that is rampant in the Zimbabwe.
ix. In 2005, NACZ published A User’s Guide to Copyright Law in Zimbabwe as a way to ensure artists enforce the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (Chapter 26:05) that had been passed in 2004. This handbook was distributed free to artists and arts organisations/institutions.
x. After many submissions to the Minister, Statutory Instrument 87 of 2006 read together with Statutory Instrument 166 of 2009 were gazetted and empowered NACZ to charge certain fees and make certain regulations enforceable at law. These SI have become one of the major tools in creating meaningful income for the Council enabling to implement development and promotion programmes for the benefit of the artists in Zimbabwe.
xi. In 2006, NACZ was supported by UNESCO to carry-out a survey on the contribution of the creative industry to Gross Domestic Product entitles, RESEARCH REPORT: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE CONTRIBUTION OF ARTS AND CULTURAL INDUSTRIES TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ZIMBABWE. The research report created debate and led to Culture Fund of Zimbabwe commissioning another one and we hope a thorough study will be done leading to the sector getting the attention it deserves.
xii. In 2006, NACZ published the first ever Zimbabwe Arts Directory with another one in 2011 with funding from Embassy of Spain and Culture Fund of Zimbabwe. These directories have helped in professionalizing the sector by ensuring that arts partners have easy access to the artists in Zimbabwe.
xiii. In 2010, The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe in partnership with Cell Funeral Assurance Company established a Cell-ebrity Funeral Cover which provides decent and affordable funeral cover and services to the artistes of Zimbabwe.
In 2013 NACZ signed a memorandum of agreement on strengthening cooperation with Beijing Opera Art’s College. NACZ also signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cultural exchange and cooperation with Culture, Sports and Tourism Administration of Shenzhen. This has allowed more support to the sector from China.
xiv. In 2013, NACZ through it Annual Arts and Culture Indaba caused the establishment of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Creative Industries that is set to professionalise and industrialize the sector.
xv. In 2014 NACZ intervene on behalf of the arts and culture sector to negotiate with the department of Immigration so that it could waive the requirement for police clearance on foreign artists wanting to perform in Zimbabwe. Having noticed the challenges that the police clearance issue was causing in the sector, NACZ engaged Immigration to revert to the usual arrangement where Immigration did its own security checks on international artists.