Art Yak with CHANDA MWENYA
THE African Inspirations Art Exhibition that emerged on the Zambian art scene in 1997 and went under after its fourth edition in 2001, resurfaced last week Thursday at the Lusaka Golf Club.
Despite its sixteen-year absence, the private viewing of the African Inspirations exhibition was well attended with the minister of tourism and arts Charles Banda as the guest of honour. Also present were art collectors, Andrew Sardanis and Lwao Chilambwe, former Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) director general Patrick Chisanga and art scholar Andrew Mulenga among others.
The return of the African Inspirations show highlighted the resilience of artists; Poto Kabwe, Eddie Mumba, Style Kunda, Victor Makashi, Adam Mwansa, Vincentio Phiri and Agness Yombwe were part of the initial editions of the exhibition and showed up during the private viewing last Thursday.
The conspicuous absence of Flinto Chandia, Peter Maibwe, Godfrey Setti, Lutanda Mwamba and Friday Tembo through death brought a sense of loss and melancholy.
After a moment of silence was observed in honour of the fallen artists, African Inspirations co-founder Aaron Chungu set the tone for the show.
“This art exhibition is the revival of the journey ‘The African Inspiration’ the name of this exhibition which began in 1997 with only a few artists and became an annual event bringing together more than 20 accomplished artists under one roof by August 2001,” Chungu said.
“Our plan was to turn this art exhibition into a premier annual event on the Zambian calendar.
Faustine Kabwe and I at that time saw the great need to supplement the few corporate institutions and individuals like Messers Andrew Sardanis and Enzio Rossi who were in the forefront of promoting art in Zambia.
“We realised that art had the potential of being turned into an industry capable of contributing significantly to the economic growth of our country. However, for this to be achieved, the corporate world’s increased involvement in the development of art industry was key.
“In the developed world, art plays a significant role in attracting tourists to those countries, providing employment and being one of the major contributors to those countries’ economic activities.”
In the same breath, Chungu implored local corporate institutions to come on board and sponsor the arts. He made particular appeal to the banks saying in neighbouring countries like South Africa, financial institutions are involved in the promotion of art.
“In the developed world, when someone wants to get a loan, art is used as collateral because of the value it is given,” he said. “We can also do it right here in Zambia.”
And the tourism and arts minister retaliated government’s support towards all forms of art in order to promote employment.
The minister said government has prioritised the creative industry after agriculture.
Indeed, if properly harnessed the creative industry can stimulate the economy of a country.
The Nigerian creative industry (arts and entertainment) is a classic example of how well-natured arts can create jobs and contribute to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
Supported by other factors such as a huge population, a diverse culture and a federal film policy, the Nigerian film industry alone has proved to be a major contributor to the country’s creative industry.
Generally, Zambia has a lot to learn from the Nigerian creative industry.