Women in arts unite

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
THE Zimbabwean chapter of the pan-African civil society network for players in the creative sector, Arterial Network, has embarked on a drive to empower women in arts.

A number of workshops aimed at identifying setbacks and exploring best possible ways to promote women’s participation in the arts sector have been held, with more to follow.

One of the key workshops recently held was themed “African Women in Cultural Leadership Programme”.

Arterial Network Zimbabwe National coordinator, Florence Mukanga said the event gave hope to participants.

“This programme brought together over 40 women from Zimbabwe, Kenya and Senegal working in the cultural sector of Africa to explore challenges they face as professionals in the arts sector and discuss possible solutions to those challenges.

“The training programme addressed relevant and pertinent issues affecting the uptake of leadership positions by women in arts. There was frankness in discussions and participants learnt a lot,” said Mukanga.

Women, particularly those in Africa, feel side-lined in the arts sector.

Arterial Network workshops seek to address the perceived bias towards men.

Kenya’s Maureen Odero, who was part of proceedings, said the event was fruitful.

“I’m happy to be part of this eye-opening event in Harare. We are learning and exchanging ideas with some of the best brains in business,” said Odero.

Renowned bassist and vocalist, Edith WeUtonga said the programmes have opened new avenues in her career.

“The workshop revealed how collaborations are key if we want to break barriers. I am glad to say that due to this workshop, I am in talks with Danielle Logou from Senegal to tour her country with my band for a series of shows and festivals. That is essentially what artistes want, platforms to showcase their stuff,” said WeUtonga.

The new Arterial Network Zimbabwe board, led by Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi, is spearheading the initiatives.

“Arterial Network must exist in any country to offer players in the creative industries work opportunities through programmes, capacity enhancement through seminars and advocacy as well as access to markets through exhibitions, tours and cultural exchange programmes.

‘‘We are striving to ensure these things are delivered,’’ said the organisation’s national coordinator.

Meanwhile, Arterial Network will soon be launching a study on Harare’s creative spaces with a view to explore how best these areas can be utilised effectively for the development of the sector.

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