Living off art requires staying power

He further said that after having done this, these aspiring artists need to work hard together, so as to arrange acts, in the case of performing artist, which are unique, informative and attractive to watch. With reference to those artists interested in the visual arts, they need to come out with fresh eye-catching works.

It is only such works that stand a chance of bringing recognition from members of their community and visitors to the region. Katunzi expressed such ideas to the ‘Star’ last week, when it was on a short visit there and made a courtesy call to his office.

Currently, the majority of the groups in the region that seem to be getting the few opportunities to perform for visiting dignitaries are traditional ngoma troupes, who tend to have similar acts, which are not the best examples of these pieces.

Their lack of new innovative material, he says tends to restrict the kind of places they will be requested to perform. That in itself greatly restricts their likelihood of making a living  much less career from their art. “Young people, who desire to enter the entertainment field here, have to be serious and brush-up their ideas, to move with the time  professionally, instead of just relying on their talents,” the Cultural Officer said.

According to Katunzi the municipal council is ready to provide whatever support within their ability to those groups, who have formed formal working associations with a written constitution and scheme of operating. He referred to a place called the Student Centre, within the town area that is being run by the Catholic Church, where young people have the opportunity to go and practice their performing art skills and record their music.

However, when the ‘Star’ paid a visit there it was discovered that these classes were disbanded sometime in the past. It turned out that the users of the equipment abused the  opportunity, which eventually brought everything to a full stop. The centre’s Manager, Masanja Mjaba, a young Form Six leaver, told the ‘Star’ the main reason for the centre being established in the first place was to provide somewhere young people could go in a disciplined environment for extra curriculum activities, which included sports and the arts.

He confirmed that for some time they were conducting some music recording there but the exercise collapsed when the equipment was stolen. Currently the two areas in which progress is being made are with their basketball team, who are the regions newly-crowned champions and a group of dancers called ‘Shakers’.

The chairman of this group,  Modestus Maumba, explained that the group came together when a number of other young people like himself wanted to pursue their love of the art form. They had started in 2009, with four members. Today he is the only one left from the original line-up, in a group of nine dancers. They usually get the opportunity to perform at graduation ceremonies but have dreams of taking their act to much higher levels.

For a week they practice five days without fail from five to six thirty in the evenings. Modestos spoke optimistically with regards to his group’s future, as opposed to Saleh Mohamed, who had put together a troupe of seven young people in a performing comedy act last year. At the time of talking to the ‘Star’ last week, they had stopped rehearsing since last January because he they were not getting enough opportunities to perform in front of an audience.

This meant he had to fall back onto his visual art, which somehow brings in a little money so that he, wife and three-month old baby son can live on. He expressed much words of wanting to continue with the comedy act but cannot see how this can be possible given the current situation they encountered.

Together with these activities, Saleh also makes rubber  stamps, paintings, usually to order and operates a sign writing stall, there in the town centre. It is this he says that enables him to make ends meet. This was quite evident from the number of business establishment within the town area for which he had written their signboards, names and other promotional fine art works.

ABRAHAM John (23), a second year student at ...


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