Zimbabwe/ 6. Financing of culture  

6.3. Trends and indicators for private cultural financing

Most of the arts activity in Zimbabwe is dependent on donor funding. According to the Cultural Statistics Survey conducted by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, in collaboration with ZimStat, 63.1 % of artists who accessed funding for their work were getting their support from the donors (Culture Statistics Survey, 2012).

Some of the funding agencies working in Zimbabwe include the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Africalia (Belgium), HIVOS, Embassies such as Norwegian Embassy and UNIC Members such as British Council and the Zimbabwe German Society.

Of these private donors, SIDA, through the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust is the greatest funder of the arts. The fund was established and registered as a Trust in 2006 to contribute to the growth and development of the culture sector in Zimbabwe through provision of financial and technical support to cultural practitioners, institutions and activities. The establishment of the fund came as a result of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and stakeholders’ desire to address inconsistent funding to the culture sector in Zimbabwe.

Since 2013 the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust has also forged funding partnerships with UNDP, European Union (Euro 500,000.00 over two years) and The Danish Embassy in Harare, broadening its funding base. It has also supported more than 900 arts projects in Zimbabwe since its establishment.

In 2014 only, the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust Board awarded US$336,050.00 in the first funding cycle of 2014 while grants worth us$178,154.80 were awarded in the second funding cycle. These grants were awarded in partnership with SIDA, EU and Embassy of Denmark Harare office. It is not clear how much funds are invested by other donors annually.

Most of the arts funding programmes by donors working in Zimbabwe are generally not enough to meet the needs of the sector. According to a report produced by the Commonwealth Team which visited Zimbabwe in 2012, there was no arts organisation that was not suffering from a lack of funding. In fact very few institutions get institutional funding support from these donors and the majority of those organisations that do, are based in the big cities of Bulawayo, Mutare and Harare. The rest of the institutions receive project specific funding which is not good for the development of the creative sector. The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust also receives annual funding requests that far exceed its funding capacity.

One of the biggest challenges regarding donor funding is that in most cases it pursues agendas of the donors at the expense of nurturing creativity. This is not surprising as all such funding is an extension of the foreign policy and foreign relations of the donor countries. However, for the recipient countries they are both positive and negative sides. One poet from Bulawayo Mgcini Nyoni commented that, ‘the donor community has been throwing loads of money at “productions” that are big on issues to do with good governance, domestic violence, sexual rights and so on and rather tiny on creativity. The productions are becoming more and more mediocre, more and more ridiculous and the audiences have stayed at home and coaxing them back will be difficult.’

The Director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Elvas Mari, also thinks that dependency on donor funds has crippled the growth of the industry in Zimbabwe. Because of a lack of government investment in the arts and culture sector, most of Zimbabwe’s arts and culture activities are dependent on donor funds from arts agencies, embassies and NGOs; this has meant that most of these activities are modelled to satisfy donor needs and wants. And if these funds are not available most arts programmes cease to exist. Many events have failed to happen due to lack of funding.

Chapter published: 07-04-2015