Artists receive first-ever art export training

By Lisa Masuku

BULAWAYO-based artists have been given an opportunity to fine-tune their skills on the use of digital platforms to market their productions on the regional and international market.

With Bulawayo being the cultural hub of the creative industry, artists from the city this Tuesday went through a skills and knowledge training workshop under the guidance of the country’s export promotion body, ZimTrade.

They were equipped with skills on how to use online platforms to sell their brands beyond the country’s borders.

“This workshop was an eye-opener because as artists we were struggling on how to make use of the digital platforms. You know platforms like Twitter are scary sometimes and it’s even scary to go there and write something because of the backlash,” said one artist.

“This has given us the urge to document our work through online presence because it is a step towards exporting our work beyond Zimbabwe. Most of us are rigid to change, but this workshop has equipped us with knowledge on the importance of being open to change if we want to grow,” added another.

Presenting at the Arts Master Class held under the theme, “Beyond the craft”, National Arts Council regional manager, Cleopatra Dube, emphasised the need for artists to utilise local cultural events such as festivals to market themselves.

“As an artist, you have to build your presence and profile in your home ground first and this is done through performing at festivals,” she said.

ZimTrade is convinced the arts industry has a key role to play in telling the Zimbabwean story to the world, hence the need for artists to come up with productions that compete on the regional and international market.

“We are saying art is business. Art plays a key role in marketing the Zimbabwean story. Besides them just performing and being known locally, there is a need for artists to participate in international expos to generate more revenue for themselves and the country,” said ZimTrade manager southern region, Jacqueline Nyathi.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, some artists’ fortunes took a knock as they have struggled to take advantage of online platforms due to a lack of skills, hence the importance of the capacity building drive.