Zimbabwe music promoters facing a nightmare

The lifting of Covid 19 restrictions, paving the way for a season of festivals and events, has been greeted with joy and enthusiasm around the world. The public is happy, promoters around the world are optimistic, but are Zimbabwean promoters excited? Perhaps. What is certain, however, is that Zimbabwean arts events organisers are facing a crisis that may affect the future of concerts in the country itself.

By Fadzai Mathabire

For anyone else, events are as simple as showing up where they are held, bringing a few friends, and perhaps having some refreshments. However, a spectacular show is never just about lights, cameras and action. It takes organisers time, money, energy and a whole host of compliance procedures just to get your favourite performer on stage and make sure you are in a safe environment. At the arts promoters meeting hosted by the National Arts Council Zimbabwe (NACZ) earlier this week, the Music Promoters Association outlined its concerns in the industry. One of the main problems is the

Competition from unregistered players. Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza, the association’s representative, stated, “We have seen unregistered promoters putting on shows only with a police permit, and we are asking NACZ to investigate because it makes our job harder.” He went on to explain that registration as a promoter could become unattractive if the regulations do not equally apply to all parties involved.

“It is good to make sure that promoters follow protocols, but it would be good to have the conversation with other industry players.” He went on to explain how companies become competitors when it comes to booking artists.

As part of the agenda, promoters were encouraged to comply with regulations governing their business, including duty-free importation, registration for events and engagement of international artists. Officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), the Immigration Department, the Zimbabwe Censorship and Entertainment Unit, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) were on hand to explain the procedures and requirements for each phase.

“Local promoters have spoken out against the growing mischief of some bouncers who they say steal and resell tickets during events, cheating them out of massive profits from ticket sales.” In Zimbabwe, event organisers have reported several incidents at indoor and outdoor events of bouncers taking over the entrance or demanding money from event organisers. In response to this problem, NACZ proposed a strategic meeting with the Music Promoters Association and ZRP to work toward concrete solutions.”

Another pressing issue was the cry for help from music promoters who continue to struggle with the problem of rowdy bouncers showing up at events to cheat them out of their hard-earned revenue. The problem, which has been a talking point for more than a year now, is not unique to Zimbabwe. Lifestyle writer Thabang Regoeng from Botswana reported in 2017,

On the same topic, Mr. Mlauzi from ZRP suggested that promoters should meet with the police to discuss the security strategy before each event based on the specific venue and details. “It would be helpful to sit down and discuss a strategy before each event where we can determine the necessary security measures,” he said. There is need to be careful that the bouncers do not have informative agents in those meetings.

It’s a heavy burden to put on music promoters in Zimbabwe, who spend a lot of money and effort to advertise, organise the artists, get through all the stressful processes, and then rowdy bouncers come and reap what they did not sow. It is no surprise that we have this problem of a rise in crime in Zimbabwe as a result of high unemployment combined with economic hardship.

All in all, Zimbabwe’s creative and cultural sectors still have a lot of work to do before they are fully functional. Even as NACZ continues to make efforts to promote the creative industries, its efforts need the support and endorsement of all stakeholders in the sector. If the procedures and protocols work smoothly, they will have a positive impact on Zimbabwe’s economic and cultural dynamism. All of us, artists, media, and of course the public, have a responsibility to work toward a sustainable arts industry. We are playing our part by keeping you informed. Do you know yours?

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