Wanted: Vibrant creative industry

Wednesday May 27 2020

By Kasera Nick Oyoo midastea@gmail.com

Recently, President John Magufuli and Tourism and Natural Resources minister Hamisi Kigwangwalla called for a return to a degree of normal-cy in the Tourism business.

This is a positive development. One of the key economic sectors which have close socioeconomic linkages with Tourism is Culture, generally defined as ‘the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.’

Some of the better-known cultural practitioners closer to Tourism are sculpture artists and traditional dancers.

But, most unfortunately and, for some reason or (an) other much of the relatively huge potential of our cultural industries is still latent; it’s yet to be fully and functionally exploited to the best interests of the country and its people.

But, as the global corona-virus pandemic peters out and economies in general, and international Tourism start to recover we should focus on addressing the hurdles to meaningful and sustainable development of our cultural industries.

In this, we should be guided by the report which was compiled by the Coalition for Harmonisation of Initiatives of Mobilised Local Artists for Better Artworks (the Chimaba Sanaa Group), and the Business Environment Strengthening Tanzania Dialogue (Best-Dialogue).

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The Best-Dialogue programme aimed at building private sector capacities to electively dialogue with the government and influence public policy improvements.

One major drawback is the lack of an active creative policy today, as the extant one which was formulated in 1997 did not envisage the rapid changes that have been ongoing globally.

A key question is: can effectively exploiting the potential of the cultural industries help to cultivate skills, create jobs and bolster economic growth  thereby making Tanzania the semi-industrialised state by 2025 as envisaged in our National Development Vision 2025? There are too many/too high taxes imposed on cultural /creative products like artefacts that discourage prospective buyers, including tourists.

Financing is lacking/limited to enable startups and operational activities in creative industries. Also, there’s a lack of understanding and functional exploitation of the entire value chain in the cultural and creative industries.

This puts o’ potential/prospective investors in the production, value-addition, trading and related socio-economic developmental activities.

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (Cap 218, R.E, 2002) and Intellectual Property protection in Tanzania (as per Act 7/1999)notwithstanding, rampant piracy of music and other creative works remains a major challenge to the sec-tors’ development, thereby discouraging local and foreign investors alike.

Also, the lack of appropriate Research and Development (R&D) is a barrier to regular and accurate performance measure of the creative industries in terms of fair competitiveness in the domestic, regional, international and diaspora markets.

As it is today, the extant cultural/creative policy and regulatory frameworks are outdated, not known to many stakeholders and lack focus on a wider scope of the creative industries so as to boost a creative work-force, creative activities and a creative economy in Tanzania.

There’s no concrete evidence of inter-ministerial/inter-institutional collabo-ration among stakeholders. This results in duplication of activities within the country, lack of systematic budgeting, weak business promotion, poor allocation of resources, including sta¥ng.

There is also poor good governance across the arts, cultural and creative industries.

Reportedly, about 74 percent of cultural experts in Tanzania lack skills – and rarely understand the scope of the sector, as well as their roles and responsibilities.

Finally, the sector lacks infrastructure (like theatre halls, cultural centres and exhibition space. This limits opportunities to boost creative jobs and business.

In view of the foregoing, there is a real need for drastic policy and regulatory reforms designed and intended to bring the arts, culture and other creative industries squarely into the mainstream of Tanzania’s economic and social life.

The existence of creative industries has also contributed a lot to the growing of the cultural web, creative occupations and a creative economy. The potential for Tanzania has only been scratched.

According to a culture and creative arts guru and researcher, Dr Charles Ruyembe: “instead of the death of traditional cultural forms, we now discover that tradition is in transition, and articulated to modern proc-esses.

 “Wanted: Vibrant creative industry