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Mari speaks on arts

Speaking in an interview with StandardLife&Style, Mari said lack of resources compromised a lot of talent.

“In terms of art, we can compete favourably while sometimes there is no competition whatsoever.

“What we lack is the equipment, implying that the quality is sometimes compromised,” said Mari.

“In the case of theatre and other exhibitions, we lag behind in terms of such things as lighting but other than that, people out there speak highly of Zimbabwean art.

Mari said his organisation last received funding for various projects from government in 1998 and they have done well without the financial support.

“We operated in an unfavourable environment because of lack of funding and realised we could not keep waiting for the funding that would never come. So we decided to create a different model where we engage corporate entities that have got the money so that they bankroll certain projects for the benefit of the arts fraternity.

“We created interest in a programming model of generating money and we have done pretty good compared to other nations,” said Mari.
Mari joined the NACZ in 2002 as an assistant director. He boasts that he has been involved in the creation of numerous arts and culture events over the years.

As per the norm, Mari’s tenure as the director of the NACZ expires in two months and one wonders if what he sees and feels he has done for the arts and culture fraternity is what everyone sees.


Mari blamed the problems that the Zimbabwean arts sector is facing on weak legislation. He said there are three things that he wishes the country would abide by.

“The first one is that a certain percentage of the budget set aside to build certain national institutions or buildings should be directed towards the arts sector. If they can allocate 1% to art, then it would mean that sculptors, painters and all other artistes whose works might add colour to such infrastructure will benefit from the projects,” said Mari.

“Government should ensure tax rebate for any corporate institution that funds any arts and cultural projects. That will act as an incentive and it would draw more sponsorship towards the sector.

“The third would be that there are institutions like the state lottery who handle lots of money day in day out. If a small fraction of that money is channeled towards the arts and culture sector then not a single artiste would struggle in Zimbabwe,” said Mari.

Mari went on to challenge artistes to be professional in all that they do. He said the absence of proper structures in their businesses left them prone to abuse.

“Pricing structures, punctuality, costumes and other things like contract forms enhance an artiste’s professionalism. One cannot charge a certain price here then another to the next person because that shows lack of professionalism. Continuity shows one is organised,” he said.

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