NAMIBIA recently held the first ever SADC Arts’ Summit, which was probably the only arts summit that was ever held in Africa. With this stepping stone in striving to achieve a viable and functioning creative economy, many an artist felt that they did not understand what was going on. “It is boring” or “I will not waste my time here” were some of the comments I received from the artists who attended the event. Now from an artist’s point of view; policies, strategies, frameworks and talk shops may be further away from what they are used – singing on a beat or drawing on a canvas. But the conversation around how to make money and seemingly how to create a non-existent creative economy in Southern Africa was equally important to them. Governments and municipal authorities should be at the forefront of policies and regulations for promoting arts and not the artists themselves. Namibia’s vice president, Nangolo Mbumba said that politicians who have been convinced of the arts economic spin-offs should allocate the countries’ best sites in the cities and villages to arts in order to create well- equipped market places, where our people can showcase and sell their crafts or even make music. This is common sense, but as usual, I expect nothing tangible will come out of such a suggestion. Because how many times has that song being sung and quite often to the disappointment of many artists, they still do not have food on their table. Although an art summit was important, so was making the artists understand why the art summit was important. Solutions, suggestions and advice were being thrown around left, right and center by speakers who represented their countries arts’ organisations. But to my surprise, artists only had the courage to raise their opinions during lunch time. I believe that our people are talented and industrious in fields of arts but it appears policy making is not one area of their expertise. All they really want is funding to create their work and hopefully make a living off their creativity. As much as it is important to talk to politicians, most of them will only react if there is a call for action. Otherwise this summit was a waste of time and money. To promote the arts sector as a viable career option for the next generation, skills are important. So education is important, but the mentality of our politicians will never change if they do not see the need to update and review current art policies. I hear “No one must be left behind” all the time, but human creativity is lagging, especially in Namibia where culture and arts are supposed to be at the forefront. Politicians should not expect the creative industry to develop itself without support. We have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that they choose arts as a career option, because currently arts seem to be on the periphery of policy making in Namibia.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015