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Culture Fund Board Chairperson Comments on Supporting Zimbabwean Creatives during COVID-19

Following Culture Fund’s announcement of the second call for proposals under its CreativeACTIONs project, the Culture Fund Board chairperson, Cynthia Malaba, took the opportunity to speak about the Arts during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also appreciated the long-standing partnership between the Culture Fund and the European Union Delegation for Zimbabwe; clarifying that - while in the last five years, the Culture Fund’s programmes focused on Culture for development - the Fund continued its search for funding the Arts. CreativeACTIONs is Culture Fund’s way of demonstrating the importance of direct support to society and creative ecosystems in Zimbabwe.

However, Cynthia Malaba lamented over the fact that the cultural and creative sector has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown conditions have resulted in jobs and livelihoods losses, venue closures and dwindling of self-employment opportunities. Social protection for the sector is largely nonexistent in the country. Though many Zimbabweans, like many other people the world over, appreciate the public value the Arts bring and accept the massive role they are playing in entertaining and comforting people locked down under the COVID-19 crisis, artists have been left to fend for themselves.

The Arts have enormous potential to make contribution to Zimbabwe’s creative economy - as drivers of economic growth. She noted the growth in the film and music industries of Nigeria and India. The Arts also make significant contributions to social cohesion. Culture Fund, with support from the EU, is providing relief support for the sector - investing in creative innovations, inclusive of those in the emerging digital environment.

Malaba took the opportunity to recall on the Culture Fund and the European Union’s support for government’s country wide consultations that led to the National Culture Policy of Zimbabwe – launched by the President in December 2019. The Culture Fund, through its programmes and projects, continues to complement national development strategies for Culture and the creative sector. It continues to advocate for greater awareness of the increasing role the sector is playing; integral to the economic, social and environmental planning and development in Zimbabwe. For the first time, government included a section about the sector in its National Development Strategy 1 (2021-25) - where it invited non-state actors to partner it in implementing the strategy. Culture Fund hopes that its contributions to the sector continue to demonstrate its commitment to the preservation and promotion of the diversity of cultures in Zimbabwe while energizing creative innovations for economic growth.

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