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Denmark injects new life into culture sector

The following article was originally published in Daily News on 3 August 2014

Written by Munya Simango

Denmark will inject $1 million into Zimbabwe's culture sector over the next two years as part off its development cooperation with Zimbabwe. The grant that will be managed by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust will provide support aimed at enhancing the role of culture as a medium for free expression and at strengthening the capacity of key Zimbabwean cultural operators.

The Danida-Culture Fund partnership also has a culture exchange component designed to foster better mutual understanding and cooperation between the people of Denmark and Zimbabwe through the arts.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the partnership agreement in Harare recently, the head of mission at the Royal Danish Embassy office in Harare, Charge dé Affaires e.p. Erik Bragger Rasmussen said: "The signing of this grant is yet another step in Denmark's re-engagement process to rebuild ties with Zimbabwe.

With the exchange component of this partnership, we hope that we can create interaction between ordinary people and artists in both countries and in the process rebrand the Zimbabwean image.” The Danish head of mission said that the international policy community recognises that culture is a key contributor to sustainable development alongside economics, socio-politics and the environment.

“We are signing this agreement with the aim of supporting Zimbabwean culture because we believe that culture underpins development and should be part of the development agenda," said Erik Bragger Rasmussen.

Speaking on the same occasion, Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust executive director Farai Mpfunya said: "The Culture Fund is grateful for the partnership that we have entered into with Denmark. It is our hope that with greater emphasis on understanding that the arts and culture can effectively contribute to sustainable development in this country, we can, in the process build a better, more progressive Zimbabwe.

"Our investment with the support from Denmark will go towards establishing programmes that will focus on creating respectful, progressive Zimbabwean art with an emphasis on enhanced arts management, professionalism in the arts and arts education."

In the next two years, the funding will be invested in a variety of initiatives including culture exchange programmes, festivals, music and theatre productions, workshops, arts management training initiatives and culture projects.

Denmark and Zimbabwe have a long history of cooperation dating back to the struggle for independence when the Nordic country was a strong supporter of the liberation movement.

Since 2008 Denmark has emerged as one of Zimbabwe's biggest bilateral donors in per capita terms.

The current Denmark-Zimbabwe Development Partnership Programme (2013 – 2015) has an overall budget of $95 million.

The programme's needs-based interventions are targeted at broad socio-economic areas including democratic and accountable governance, infrastructure rehabilitation and policy development as well as private sector development in agriculture aimed at improving the productivity of the smallholder farmers.

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