The New Year is upon us and as we celebrate it half the mind is already thinking about Intwasa 2016. Things being equally we should actually be announcing the 2016 edition programme or at least the headline acts with this blog article. In countries where the arts are serious business festivals are programmed a year or two in advance. If you google search some festivals today you can actually see full programmes for events that are eight or ten months away. Unfortunately, with local festivals one has to scrounge around for resources first before making commitments and announcements. And this always results in local festival releasing programmes to the public just a few weeks before everything happens.
Some years ago we had a fierce argument with one local scholar who had spent a few years outside Zimbabwe and had just come back. She suggested that local festival organizers are poor planners. Her assumption was that the failure by most festivals to have programmes out say six months before the actual events took place was proof enough of their failure to plan. Most festival organizers present on that day did not take kindly to her assumptions. The truth is big artists commit where resources are available. With local festivals 80% of the time is spent looking for resources. Half the time festival organizers are not even sure their festivals will take place as resources only come in a month or two before.
So here we are in the second week of January 2016 wanting to at least announce to the world festival dates and the 2016 theme but unable to. At least not until the end of January. But rest assured that we are already thinking and planning about this year’s edition. The 2016 edition marks the 12th edition of Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo. We know very much that it is now a tired cliché to say this year’s edition will be bigger and better. So we shall skip that. All we can boldly say is that this year we are aiming at getting 30 000 people visit the seven venues of this year’s festival where as usual about 50 events will be curated. 30 000 people is our magic phrase for 2016. Of course, the general objective of the festival remains the same; to celebrate human creativity and cultural diversity. While we do this we also want to market Bulawayo as a tourist destination.
Yes. The festival has a huge potential to market Bulawayo and its heritage cites. It can give it priceless visibility. In other countries festivals are known to be serious drivers of cultural tourism. There is enough proof to show how festivals have impacted on people and places and brought good income to some cities. We honestly believe that it is time Intwasa Arts Festival, the City of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority seriously partner in selling the following places not only to the people of Bulawayo but to the outside world as well; Amakhosi Cultural Centre, Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre, National Museum, Amagugu Heritage Centre, Khami Ruins, Chipangali Orphanage and Matopos.
The steps to Intwasa 2016 begin now. Be part of the 30 000 festival audience this year.