THE National Arts Merit Awards are becoming like a broken record when it comes to brewing controversy through dubious decisions.
The 17th edition held just over a week ago in Harare followed the time-worn script.
What’s with creating categories, announcing nominees and then failing to name a winner? Or giving the Outstanding Song Award to Jah Prayzah’s “Ndini Ndamubata” when the consensus is that “Pamamonya Ipapo” (Soul Jah Love) or “Akiliz” (Ammara Brown’s) were clearly superior works?
Having switched from their traditional home, 7 Arts Theatre, to Reps Theatre this year, hosting a flawless red carpet event was going to be a challenge because of space constraints. 7 Arts can hold about 700 people and Reps about half that number. With four television crew teams crammed in the Reps Theatre foyer, the area was congested and there was no red carpet magic to talk about. The 2017 edition did will with the limousines and associated pizzazz. Also, this year ushers were in short supply such that Nicholas Moyo, deputy director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, was actively assisting in that regard.
But why shift venues in the first place?
Nacz deputy director, Moyo, responded: “Harare has always been challenging in terms of venues for awards ceremonies. 7 Arts has been a good home for Nama but due to other considerations more technical in nature a decision was made to move to Reps Theatre. There were a number of positive outcomes in general, the ceremony was created with Reps Theatre in mind.”
However, Moyo could neither confirm nor deny if Reps Theatre is now the new home for the Nama ceremony.
For an event that takes place once a year, there should be evidence that time has been invested in continuously improving it. When it came to Nama 2018, there was an absence of evidence and evidence of absence.
For instance errors in getting a pre-recorded speech to play should not be tolerated. This seems to happen every year.
The rhythm was jerky: presenters at times appeared confused as to what was next on the programme. Moyo said: “Each events management company is contracted for a given number of years and AB Communications currently has the tender. Previous events managers include Hash Three, Tatu Media and ESP Studios. The selection is based on a given tender criteria.”
This year’s edition will be remembered for mocking the creative sector particularly those in the visual and literary arts genres.
Nama adjudicator’s chairperson Professor Ruby Magosvongwe said they were unhappy with quality of entries and hence some categories had no winners.
So who came up with the nominees?
It was not all gloom at the 17th edition of the awards ceremony.
The opening act was unique, characterised by a superb combination of arts genres, namely theatre, music and painting. It swiftly captured the attention of guests as well as those following live feeds. Also, there were some characters that brought life to the awards presentations unleashing well-crafted and timely jokes.
Nacz needs to build on these positives and correct their mistakes so that we have flawless events in the future. Moyo argues they always take into account contributions from various stakeholders.
“We always meet registered arts organisations to consult on how best to development and promote the arts sector including all Nacz programmes. Changes that have happened over the years have come a result of consultations with stakeholders,” he said.
“In addition, we (Nacz and AB Communication) go through a rigorous process of assessing what would have happened in a particular year with the aim of consolidating our successes and correct shortcomings.”
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