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Visual artists urged to embrace digitisation

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Mashonaland East Programmes Officer Mr Dennis Deya Madyira

By Chimeno Azriel

Zimbabwe’s Visual artists have been urged to embrace digitization as a way to market their artworks especially during this era of the Covid 19 pandemic. These remarks were made during the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East and Manicaland’s Cultural exchange program held virtually.

The Visual Arts Workshop deliberated on the exploitation and linkage of the local and international market in the era of the pandemic. Visual artists were encouraged to use various forms of media when marketing their artworks in a smart and convenient way.

Speaking to this publication, one of the organisers of the workshop, Mr. Dennis Denya Madyira, said the exchange program was aimed at enlightening marketing strategies, business models, and professionalism in the art profession.

“The workshop was intended for visual artists to educate them on how to market, do business and handle artworks professionally, especially during this time of the deadly pandemic,” said Mr. Madyira who is the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Programmes Officer for Mashonaland East.

Visual Art is viewed as the creative artwork where products are to be appreciated by sight and such artworks include paintings, sculptures, and graphics among other artworks. The presenters emphasised the importance of embracing digitization. Most artists are now finding it difficult to travel and market their works hence digitization is the panacea.

Presenters during the workshop were Mr. Edwin Hlatywayo – a visual artist based in Chipinge; Ms. Tina Shonge; Mr. Itayi Njagu, the 1999 UNDP winner in visual artwork; Mr. Phillip Kusasa a visual art practitioner and Founder and Director of Ndau Festival of Arts; and Mr. Enock Garati who is the District Arts Officer in the Ministry of Youth Sports Arts and Recreation. They all encouraged artists to focus on using different marketing strategies of which digitization was seen as the positive way out in this pandemic and 21st-century era where businesses are becoming difficult to operate.

Mr. Garati emboldened the participants to make use of all social media platforms and websites in order to promote their products.

“I urge artists to use digital marketing. They need to use social media and websites so that they will be able to market their artworks,” said Mr. Garati.

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube were some of the examples cited as smarter ways of marketing with Facebook cited as the best in social networking, Instagram for sharing photos of artworks, and YouTube as smart in video sharing.

Visual artists were tasked to produce high-quality artworks so that it will be easier for them to post and market their works and in the end attract customers. Mr. Kasasa pointed out that if artists’ work were to sail through, there was a need for them to have a number of artworks that are of good quality.

“Artists need to use various platforms where they need to post pictures of their artworks that are of the aesthetic standard,” said Mr. Kasasa.

“Digital platforms like websites and Facebook are major marketing platforms that artists can exploit,” continued Mr. Kasasa. “These are safe and can reach all angles of the globe but it is up to the artists to choose the relevant subjects matter and media.” continued the Director of Ndau Arts Festival.

The participants were advised to do research on various topical issues in order for their works to remain relevant and attract buyers.

“Artists need to research on topical issues in order for their artworks to remain relevant,” said Mr Njagu. He encouraged artists to make use of the wind of times so that their artworks attract customers.

“Most artists fail to notice the wind of time and this will, in turn, affect their artworks by attracting a few customers, so they need to move with time for their artwork to attract more customer,” continued the 2013 NAMA nominee.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende