Bulawayo Arts Festival 2024: Partners sought to celebrate City’s culture

Gibson Mhaka

THE City of Bulawayo is calling on all stakeholders, including arts and culture practitioners and the corporate world, to partner with them in celebrating the 2024 Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF) week running from 2 to 5 June.

This vibrant event aims to showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage and diversity, ultimately promoting Bulawayo as a premier tourist destination and cultural hub of Zimbabwe.

In a press release Bulawayo City Council (BCC) corporate communications manager, Nesisa Mpofu, said the City of Bulawayo commemorates Bulawayo Day on 1 June and BAF week from the 2nd – 5th of June annually.

This tradition began in 2020 following a City council resolution passed on Wednesday, 2 October 2019.

“The City of Bulawayo is a vibrant and creative city where cultural rights in their diverse manifestations occupy a place of pride. Arts, culture and heritage activities occupy a creative, historical, resilient, economic, inclusive, and innovative space.

“The City has developed to leverage on the arts and cultural sector as an industry, a driver of national Development Strategy 1 (NDS1); Education 5.0) and international agendas (UN, SDGs).

“The City of Bulawayo commemorates Bulawayo Day on the 1st of June and Bulawayo Festival (BAF) week from the 2nd – 5th of June annually since 2020 following the resolution of Council on Wednesday, 2nd October 2019.

“The 1st June was declared Bulawayo Day because it is the anniversary day of the declaration of Bulawayo as a town and sought to provide an opportunity to invite the people of Bulawayo in celebration of the distinct and proud heritage, rich diversity and artistic potential that the City is endowed with,” said Mpofu.

She said the declaration of Bulawayo Day and Festival week by Council followed lobbying by stakeholders in the creative industries for a vibrant arts, culture and heritage calendar event in the City where they could showcase and promote artistic talent and grow the industry.

“There are a number of benefits that are derived from the Festival which include the following; the festival showcases the City’s rich cultural heritage and diversity thereby marketing it as a tourist destination and cultural hub of the country; Tapping into the potential of the festival especially the culture, arts and heritage sector derives economic benefits for the City as well as capacitating the creative and tourism sectors.

“Instills self-pride and sense of belonging – the festival provides a platform for social and cultural expression integration and cohesion through diversity of the tribes, in languages, values, customs, norms and culture for the people of Zimbabwe; promotion of the value of culture and inculcation of a sense of identity as well as promoting cultural identity and diversity,” she said.

She adds: “Other benefits include promotion of cultural economy and cultural tourism – through activities such as heritage trails, food and craft fairs; support of Heritage based curriculum in schools and Education 5.0; creative industries incubation, support and promotion – creation of livelihood opportunities in the creative, cultural and arts sectors and the associated value chains.

“Local Economic Development e.g. the Bulawayo Home Industries basketry project; capacitating artistes and skills development at Recreation centres as nurtured skills and talents find outlet to market itself during the festival; marketing the City’s potential as an Arts Culture Capital.

“Preservation of the rich cultural heritage for posterity; and contribution to attainment of Sustainable Development Goals – Culture has a crucial role to play in SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and target 11.4 calls for strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.

Mpofu said the City of Bulawayo is also actively participating in the national and international agendas that promote and develop arts and culture.

“This participation is largely attributed to its cultural vibrancy and established arts culture and heritage desk. An activity such as BAF that draws national and international attention supports these agendas.

“The Bulawayo Arts Festival is budgeted for in the City of Bulawayo 2024 Budget under the Festivals and Recreational Activities line item which caters for various activities which also include the Youth Festival, youth training programmes under recreational services, participation at exhibitions (for example participation and training of Drum majorettes for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair among other aspects amounting to US$300,000 for all the programmes).

“The Budget for the 2024 Bulawayo Day and Bulawayo Arts Festival is US$30,000 instead of US$300,000 alluded to in some media reports and this budget includes the cost of venues as Council’s contribution and cross charges across various Municipal Departments,” she said.

She said this year’s programme will include a range of exciting activities.

“These include the Bulawayo Day celebrations on the 1st of June 2024 headlined by a Street Carnival, World Bicycle Day Commemorations – Asitshoveni, A Smart Mobility Initiative, and the KoNtuthu Legends Concert. Other festival activities include a Gospel Concert, various workshops such as the Dance workshops, arts economy workshop and the Inxwala Lecture series,” said Mpofu.

She further said school children were also invited to participate through cultural showcases and Spelling Bee competitions organised by the Bulawayo Junior City Council.

The festival will close with the Imbokodo Concert, an all-female artists’ concert, on 5 June 2024.

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