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Home » News » Weekend Life » Arts: Potential ignored!

Arts: Potential ignored!

Publishing Date : 03 October, 2017

Author : KEAMOGETSE MOTONE

Performing arts, if taken seriously can be a career and contribute to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product as is in South Africa- South African actress, Sindi Dlathu has remarked. Dlathu revealed this at her Master Class last weekend at the University of Botswana.


Dlathu was seemingly impressed by the “potential talent” she witnessed during the intimate event. A cohort of young aspiring actors, choreographers and singers, attended the session; and according her, if incubated their talent can help improve the country’s economy. Dlathu is mostly known for her role as ‘Thandaza’ on popular Venda soap opera, Muvhango. She is one of the show’s founding actors in 1997. Dlathu was launched in the public eye at a tender age, having been amongst the Sarafina cast at only 14.


An all rounder, she is also a choreographer and singer and has worked alongside Michael Peters, the man behind Michael Jackson’s dance moves as an assistant choreographer. “In South Africa, the arts contribute enormously to the country’s GDP, it has grown and has now become a big industry and it is now contributing to the country’s economy. The Botswana government needs to seek sponsors and partnerships with other countries in order to draw investors from across. This can help further the career of arts individuals,” Dlathu advised.


Moreover, she advised that if the government can partner with Multichoice, a video entertainment and internet company with a strong presence in South Africa and across the African continent, this can attract investors from other countries.
She further called on to the youth to be proactive and show the government that they really want to do this. During an interview with the actress on the event’s sidelines, Dlathu revealed that the passion of the young performers had impressed her. “I am touched by the passion, I have never seen such passion, these people were ready to absorb and they are also very insightful. They knew what they wanted, they did not come to see me but because they are passionate and I will definitely come again if invited,” Dlathu said.


 “If I had a production house, I would take them all. There is a lot talent here!” she added. Meanwhile, theatre performer, Ralph Thato Dennison, who recently directed Kgosikgolo-The Musical and co-founded Sedibeng Choir alongside Andy Batshogile and others, in an interview with WeekendLife said he believes that the government is not doing enough to meet the needs of performing arts locally halfway. “I think government officials should do thorough research on the arts industry. The reason why they are not assisting enough is because they don't understand the magnitude, work and finance put on a production. In general our government is not doing enough to assist the arts industry. They put more focus on sports and the arts we are overlooked,” Dennison highlighted.


He further said that government personnel should undergo intense training and workshops to train them on the arts industry and what they go through to put up shows. “Most of the time we would for example propose a P200 000 budget looking at all the logistics and cost we are going to incur. Then they will in turn give us P70 000 and we will remain with debts after shows because of lack of resolute funding. On the other hand, when we request for funding and we include remuneration for performers we often get asked why we have to pay people to display their talents,” he lamented.


He also backed Dlathu’s sentiments about the arts industry in South Africa. “South Africans take arts seriously. They don't assist according to who they know. They have programs to assist mature groups. In South Africa people can make a living from performing arts because of consistency, here it is just measured as a hobby,” he highlighted. On the other hand, Co-Judge of Signed International, Tumelo Edward Chaba said that Botswana has great potential in the area of performing arts. “The potential is there and the market is ready to consume local content. The only challenge I see is we are still behind when it comes to investing in it, so artists can't do their best because of that,” said.


He further explained that acting in Botswana has improved in a major way. “Back in the days we didn't have local acting schools and now one can apply at Limkokwing or AFDA and get their skills upgraded and even gather more insights surrounding the acting profession in general. Furthermore some people are actually making a living out of acting,” he said. “The government is soon to launch BTV 2 youth Chanel and I think it is good news to both actors and producers so in a nutshell I think the industry is heading in the right direction,” he explained further.


Last year February, Minister of Basic Education, (then Education and Skills Development) Unity Dow was quoted at the launch of the Performing Arts programme as saying performing arts had the potential to diversify the country’s economy.
The project tagged Unleash Your Star Qualities, which was a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Limkokwing University; enrolled 100 candidates selected from auditions conducted around the country and were to be credited by the university.


The performers enrolled would go on to produce and perform Moratiwa a theatrical piece under the guidance of legendary jazz artist Socca Moruakgomo. Since the play, the group never produced any other offering. Neither did the ministry nor the University show any signs the Programme would continue. This month, marks one year since Moratiwa premiered. On the other hand, the University of Botswana only started offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2009. In 2013, the department of Music, Visual and Performing Arts was introduced.


From as early as 1982, the UB had a travelling theatre, dubbed the University of Botswana Travelling Theatre (UBTT). The theatre, having travelled most of the country gained prominence and was appreciated by the public. It was on that basis that the university designed some theatre courses to be offered as part of the English curriculum and simultaneously recruited staff qualified in theatre studies to teach the courses. The first cohort of the UB BFA graduated in October 2014.


Although there are a lot of productions companies in Botswana, DeeZone productions has been dominant in the arts industry offering better platforms for actors and artists to showcase their talent. The company has hired a limited number of more than 30 graduates who have played part in local television stories, like Ntwakgolo, Lethabile, and even introduced Btv’s first magazine show Pula Power and First Issues.


Most local soapies that have aired locally are momentary; currently the country does not have a solid drama. Thokolosi and Re Bina Mmogo are two notable television dramas aired on Btv. Botswana has exported most of its acting talent to South Africa, including some musicians and models. Connie Ferguson, Oneal, Ban-T, Thato Sikwane, Thabang Mmolotsi, Kgomotso Ratsie and Kaone Kario are among Batswana who are making significant strides in the South African arts industry.

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