Data collection comes to uplift artists
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SIGNING a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), earlier this week, between the Tanzania Federation of Crafts and Arts (TAFCA) and the MikocheniDar es Salaam-based, Data Vision International (DVI), has been hailed as a “great step” in the right direction.

The general belief, amongst stakeholders is that this will greatly help make Visual Artists (VAs) more visible to the general public. This in turn will have a ricochet effect, which will physically and visibly improve the life of VAs, who have been complaining of being marginalised for quite a long time.

However, it must be kept in sight that these same artists are reminded that for this initiative to be a success, they have to play an “active positive role” in the machinery.

The fact remains that there are alliances made every day, yet still the same problems seem to be plaguing the local Arts community, without an equal response in relations to having them solved.

Therefore, what has made so many people optimistic concerning this signing of a MOU between local VAs and this home-grown and groomed consultancy firm? Maybe taking a closer look at the comments made by a few stakeholders, would help clarify this.

After the signing last Tuesday, at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre (JNICC), here in Dar es Salaam, the Arts Council’s (BASATA) Executive Secretary, Godfrey Mngereza, is one of those present who spoke to the ‘Daily News’.

He was extremely pleased for this initiative for he believes it will help them, as implementers of Government policies, to fulfil their duties. “When you’re talking about development, in every sector and not just in the Arts sector, data base, statistics, become a very important thing for planning development issues.

Without proper statistics you cannot plan properly. Whether it’s short-term, middle or a longterm plan, it will be lacking somehow,” he maintained.

Therefore, he suggested, “Signing this MoU will foster development of the Arts Industry in the country. I’m sure this is the gear that will ensure Art development in the country to move very quickly.”

However, the Arts Council’s Executive Secretary envisages there will be obstacles and the biggest of these coming from the artists themselves. That is because, he says many of them won’t understand the importance of having a data base.

This could result in some hiding information, being guided by the misconception that the Government is using this initiative as a means of getting money from them. All-the-same, he maintains it will work providing it’s given the required time and support.

They are even thinking of having this initiative applied to the other sectors within the Creative Industry (CI). That is Films, Performing Arts and Music. This he maintains will take time until their budget is available.

Already the Arts Council is undergoing much difficulties when it comes to executing their mandate, given a lack of funds. “This is a challenge because BASATA as BASATA, we’re understaffed and under budgeted, and you cannot implement whatever you’re planning without sufficient funds.

Although, according to the Acts, we’re supposed to see to it that artists are well developed. We’re trying but the results are very mini mum,” he said.

Mngereza went on to give an example of this as their efforts towards encouraging artists to make use of the social media to sell on line. However, due to a lack of what he called “the A, B, C and D’s” of how to sell their product on line.

This is why they have started holding short seminars on this issue, despite their knowing it’s limited to the population of local artists. “Limitation of budget is hindering our efforts to make sure artists are well educated and are provided with capacity building within many areas.

Having an Arts policy in place is something the Government can do towards helping together with finding ways to encourage local companies to invest in the CI. Added to this, take a good look at the budget allocated to the ministry,” he said.

When the ‘Daily News’ got the chance to hear what the TAFCA’s President, Adrian Nyangamalle, had to say on the subject, he started by emphasising the importance of being able to operate on line.

This is why he is extra pleased to have succeeded, after many discussions over more than three years to have reached this understanding with DVI. He also singled out their biggest hurdle as being their members to understand and accept this concept, as one that will heal many of their ailments.

Nyangamalle also mentioned that their agreement in which DVI is their “Technical Partner” and not sponsors, is based on the consulting firm financing the establishment of the initiative, from which they will be reimbursed when it starts taking off.

DVI’s Deputy CEO, William Kihula, who manages their department of statistics and research was pleased for the opportunity to assist local artists reach a higher potential.

This he says will be made possible by providing this “one stop centre” to converge on. Using this data base, he says will place them in a “common market”. From their point of view, he also saw one of their main obstacles to be getting the bulk of artists to participate.

This is why they have taken into their plans having seminars, specifically for this reason. Despite this Kihula remains confident that they will be successful, coming from a background of having over 20 years’ experience working in this area.

Over this 20-year period they’ve travelled in every district in the country and have worked in several sectors such as education, health and agriculture, which he maintains gives them confidence that this initiative will work

. “This new innovation will work because it’s more established experience more than a concept that’s come from the air. With this foundation, I think it will be a success,” Kihula said.

Another factor he indicated as to why the initiative will work is that it has come about through a relation that has existed for over five years. It was not that one party had to convince the other but rather a mutual desire of working together to improve the plight of local artists.

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