Priority Areas

Priority 1: Advancing the value proposition for the arts 

Nhimbe advocates for a national culture policy that recognizes and strengthens the arts and educates legislators and policy makers on issues of importance to the creative sector. A national culture policy that supports the creation, presentation and preservation of the arts as this is necessary so that our communities can continue to reap the benefits of the arts.

Government funding for the arts

The mission of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) is to develop and promote an enabling regulatory and investment framework, which defines and empowers Zimbabwean creative industries. 

What Is at stake

Government support for the arts, which is currently spread across eleven ministries, undermines NACZ’s role as the lead agency responsible for arts promotion and development. Consequently, the NACZ’s work has been severely compromised over the years, due to perennial budget cuts resulting in its programmes being seriously underfunded. Nhimbe complements NACZ’s advocacy efforts for increased government funding for the arts.

 

Priority 2: Government incentives to non-profit and corporate investors in the arts

Arts friendly tax policy is critically important to the development and sustained vitality of the arts.

What is at stake

There is no arts friendly tax policy that supports non-profit and corporate investors in the arts.

What we are asking right now

We urge parliament to review the tax laws to provide for incentives to non-profit and corporate investors in the arts.

 

Priority 3: Reduction of red tape on visa processing for foreign artists

A plethora of taxes by NACZ, Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and Censorship Board, discourages international artists’ tours to Zimbabwe. 

What is at stake

Local non-profit arts organizations, particularly festivals, promote vital local and international trade and commerce, by presenting foreign artists in performances, educational events, and cultural programmes across the country. Zimbabwe has excessive taxation on foreign artists compared to other countries internationally. 

The tax regime for foreign artists is unsustainable for local promoters to remain commercially viable, thereby rendering local festivals and local international arts promotion unviable and unattractive for investors. The taxation contravenes the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. Currently Nhimbe is lobbying the various statutory bodies to implement common sense administrative reforms to lower the visa costs for foreign artists.

What we are asking right now

We urge Parliament to enact the Arts Friendly Tax (AFTA) Act, to reduce the red tape on visa processing for foreign artists. However, creative civil society needs to research and develop policy and legislative propositions for government and parliamentary consideration.

 

Priority 4: Defending freedom of creative expression

Freedom of artistic expression is compromised or threatened in a number of ways, whether it is through the withholding of public funding, exclusion of critics from mainstream benefits, intimidation by those wielding political authority or limiting access to public broadcast media. The right to freedom of expression may be guaranteed constitutionally, but in practice, it is undermined to prevent criticism of those in power.

What Is at stake

The right to freedom of expression is fundamental to artistic practice, yet artists are not excluded from the assault on freedom of expression experienced by other sectors of society, such as media practitioners, opposition activists and academics. This right is compromised through overt censorship, informal and direct intimidation, economic censorship and other means. Yet the country has signed UN, African and other international standard setting instruments that commit Zimbabwe to upholding freedom of expression.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
UNESCO’s recommendation concerning the status of the artist calls on member states to “protect, defend and assist artists and their freedom of expression”.
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions reaffirms that “freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies”. The African Union’s Plan of Action on the Cultural and Creative Industries in Africa, adopted in Algiers in October 2008, agrees to “guarantee freedom of expression for creative and performing artists”. Promoting the arts in Zimbabwe is to promote freedom of expression, and to promote freedom of expression is to advance democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.

What we are asking right now

For Parliament to repeal the Censorship Act and align it with UN, African and other international standard setting instruments on the protection and promotion of freedom of expression. For the government to appoint a new Censorship Board, to include members at the coalface of artistic endeavour to enhance credibility.

"Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generation." (UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity).