GROWING THE CHANNELS FOR ART CELEBRATIONS

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THE African Inspiration Fine Arts, a home-grown art promotion initiative by renowned local artists, seeking avenues for the promotion of visual art as a business enterprise have been exhibiting at the Lusaka Golf since Friday, November 1, 2019 with 25 diverse artists showcasing the rich breadth of talent of artistry subsisting in Zambia.

This exhibition will go on until November 10, 2019.  The objective of promoters has been to spur artists across the board, beyond the event’s limited exhibiting group, to aspire for more excellence in their work and make Zambian art a depository of value.

The range of artists exhibiting include artists whose medium include sculpture, paintings, illustration and sketches. There has been abstract art in its representational object form to the non-object abstract creation.

The Exhibition opened around 18 hours on Friday to the sound and drumming of traditional music, to traditional sumptuous dishes of Chikanda, Mbalala and Finkubala. It was an evening of renditions of what is on offer in Zambia in terms of our culture and art.

The art show was organised alongside the Lusaka Golf Club monthly medal tournament and continued to mark a renewed shift to the way that art is organised. 

The Lusaka Golf Club as a venue with its eclectic settings stood as a real melting receptacle of appealing greensward stretch, strewn like a basin at a convergence and it continues to be ideal for a show that combines the best for both art and golf.

The show continues the tradition to connect artists to professionals in other fields, in the spirit of encouraging the dialogue between art and other circles of exploits whose vintage can gain from the presence and structures of art.

As an entertaining event, those that came to the event left thoroughly entertained. As a forum for communicating “ideas, uncertainties, feelings, questions, fears, doubts and optimisms” that cannot otherwise reach others, the show found allies. 

As a forum for the artist to showcase the talent, there was no better outlet in Zambia, however it needs to be constantly noted that the objectives of the event went further than that. It was to promote the idea that art can be a vehicle to energise the tourism sector.

And from what has been seen so far, there are indications that the core theme by the African Inspirations of promoting Zambian visual art into an entrepreneurial enterprise can be realised in not a too distant future with persistence and with the continuous buy in by the media.

The UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research Ltd (2013) in their report, ‘the contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy’ stated the following; That “there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that house prices can be expected to be higher in localities with higher concentrations of the arts and culture and to rise where investment in the arts and culture has just taken place.”

That “the most successful cities tend to be distinctive, with niche economic sectors and unique characteristics. Distinguishing features help to attract people and businesses, attracting attention and adding value through the benefits of association.

The ambiance of exclusivity and distinctiveness created by a city with a strong offer in the arts and culture could even influence the way consumers view products of that city, leading them to attach additional value to them.”

This is why art promotion remains relevant and if evidence from the current and past African Inspirations Art Exhibition is anything to go by, there is enough interest in art from the Zambians who were previously considered a non-traditional buyer, and that confirms that the aggregate turnover from the arts can be scaled with increased focus.

In those days, the art buyers were either Zambian of Western origins or Westerners, the African Inspirations Art Exhibitions continue to show the inverse.

In this column we have also pointed out the dwarfing statistics about tourist arrivals in Zambia compared to others in the region. We noted that Zambia attracts just about a million tourist per annum, Zimbabwe about 1.6 million, Botswana about 2.6 million while the lion’s share goes to South Africa with over 20 million per year.

These numbers suggests that there is a lot of scope to scale Zambian tourism by tapping tourist going to our neighbouring countries and perhaps this spells out the approach that could include refocusing tourism promotion beyond just the natural habitats into packaging activities to include events such as the ongoing African Inspirations Fine Art Exhibition.

Could this be a twitch of something extraordinary with reverential impact on tourism? If the past is the barometer of measurement, we are onto something here. Maybe the Promoters’ idea to have a golf event interlay with the art exhibition is the clincher, we will wait and see how it unfolds, however it still demonstrates our potential for growing channels for art celebrations.

*About the Author

Kelvin Chungu is a partner at Nolands Advisory Services Limited and can be reached on kelvinc@nolands.co.zm or +260-976377484.

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