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CRITICS in creative sector have roundly condemned National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the organisers of the annual National Arts Merit Awards, for postponing the show to February 2022 saying the decision was mistimed.

JONATHAN MBIRIYAMVEKA
The awards show which is jointly hosted by the NACZ and Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation (JCMC) was scheduled for February 27, 2021 but unfortunately the organisers decided to push the date back to February 2022 without wide consultation with the artists.
There has been lots in store this year from across the arts spectrum including literally works, exhibitions, new music and theatre so much so that by the time the next NAMA is held all the new stuff this year would go to waste.
While the organisers have indicated that Covid-19 was the reason behind the postponement, it was rather less convincing and in fact a smokescreen as the world over music awards such as the Europe Music Awards, the BET Awards, even Bulawayo Arts Awards and others have been held virtually and in some cases with selected audiences.
In fact, it is less costly to hold the NAMAs virtually because there is no need for the big budget red carpet event with its razzmatazz.
All the organisers need was the nominees list and then the winners who would be awarded virtually and the event live streamed on the official NAMAs YouTube or Facebook pages.
However, the NACZ insisted on postponing the awards show saying it would be bigger and better in 2022 when they celebrate 40 years of Zimbabwe’s Independence through honouring 40 legends across the arts sector.
“The next NAMA will be held under the theme ‘Our Legacy, Our Pride’.  NAMA shall celebrate Zimbabwe’s 40th anniversary as well as the 35 years of National Arts Council existence. 
“This will be a unique event in the sense that on the night we shall honour forty (40) legends as we celebrate 40 years of Independence, dubbed NAMA Legends Awards #NAMAlegends.
“These Legends Awards provide for a strategic postponement of the competitive 20TH NAMA whose hosting hung on the balance due to COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns,” Nicholas Moyo, the NACZ director said.
“The prestigious competitive annual awards are therefore postponed for a year owing to the impact of the COVID-19 disease on creativity and the arts sector in particular over the past 8 months. In reaching the decision to postpone the competitive NAMA, NACZ is cognisant of the fact that a lack of activity in the sector has greatly affected the ability of artists to create in their usual spaces.”
Sadder still, Moyo said the integrity of NAMA would be compromised due to stringent lockdown regulations.
 Government recently announced that the public bars, beerhalls, “In this regard the postponed NAMA will be held in February 2022 and will reward art works created in the period 1st December 2019 to 30th November 2021.
This extended period is to allow artists to resume their operations in light of the relaxed COVID19 regulations.  
By hosting the Legends Awards we desire to reflect on the developments in the Cultural and Creative Industries over the past 40 years and celebrate our achievements by providing honorary awards to the people who were influential during the period in shaping the various subsectors of the CCIs.
“The awards are a special honour and recognition to legendary creatives who have raised high the flag of the country over the stated period,” he said   “Platforms of consumption have changed because all the content is going online and it should have been easier for their monitors to go online and adjudge. The postponement or me it creates an impression as if artists have not been producing during this Covid-19 pandemic and yet are we saying people have nott been born this year?” asked Daves Guzha, a theatre practitioner and Rooftop Promotions producer.
“I don’t think there was any reason to push the awards to 2022 because there is what I call physitual whereby you combine the physical and the virtual side of things. When things are tight the arts must claim that space to take people away from all this things that are negative instead of perpetuating the attrition. Under lockdown artists have in fact engaged more with the international community. Thespians have been hard at work, the visual artists and so was everyone hard at work, for instance the Jason Mphepo Little Theatre have been producing more plays and Intwasa Festival as well as Shoko Festival,” Guzha said.
Musician Isheanesu Chiguga aka Ishan, said it was wrong for NACZ to postpone the hosting of NAMA saying musicians have been continuously creating music.
“Everyday a new star is born and for NAMA to postpone the event it means they will be creating unnecessary backlog and the music that is happening now won’t be making waves next year,” he said.
Arts critic Marshall Shonhai cmmented: “I understand the reasoning behind canceling of this year’s edition, because of the Covid19 pandemic forced lockdown the arts sector was greatly affected resulting in many artists not being able to put any work out, probably only the music sector has something that can be awarded.
“What I do not get though is the wisdom for pushing it to 2022? Are we saying people will not work again next year?”

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