Hifa: The numbers are troubling

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
The Harare International Festival of the Arts bounced back this year in its traditional one-week format after taking a sabbatical in 2016 – but the welcome return brought with it some quite worrying statistics.

Despite having more corporate partners than in 2015, Hifa 2017 had a low number of total performances at 175 compared to 192.

The number of Zimbabwean artistes participating also dropped from 1 041 in 2015 to 807 acts this year.

Hifa does not only cause a buzz in Zimbabwe but also gets the world excited.

However, it seems this year the excitement did not quite go around the globe as the number of countries represented in 2017 was 35 compared to 43 in 2015.

The statistics provided to The Sunday Mail Society do not show the total number of tickets sold at this year’s edition compared to the 49 237 recorded two years ago.

However, the lower numbers have not deterred the Hifa team from staging another extravaganza next year, and the festival will run from May 1 to 6, 2018.

“We can indeed confirm that once again, the Zimbabwean public will be able to have an event, which brings them together in a celebration of the essence of being Zimbabwean.

“The joy and attraction of Hifa lies in its being a melting pot of Zimbabweans from all social backgrounds coming together as one. Being able to offer such a platform to the country is indeed a joyous privilege for the Hifa team,” said Hifa executive director Maria Wilson.

Associate executive director Tafadzwa Simba added that ancillary activities, which Hifa announced in 2015 as part of the programme going forward, would run alongside the six-day festival.

“As we have mentioned before, we have responded to a public hunger for increased artistic presentations from Hifa throughout the year. Various activities will therefore happen alongside the main festival,” said Simba.

“There is a lot that we have always done besides the festival, and the public will be learning a lot more about those activities. But there are also new experiences that will be brought to the public as a means by which to expose art and culture to wider audiences.

“We will be sharing details of these activities soon since, at present, regulatory procedures are just being finalised.”

Simba said applications for artistes wishing to perform at Hifa 2018 were being considered until December 31, 2017.

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