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Arts & Culture is Serious Business

Stephen Chifunyise, a United Nations certified expert, has urged media practitioners to "appreciate the value of culture and its contribution to the economy, health and political awareness" in Botswana. Chifunyise was speaking at the conclusion of a 'Workshop on Media Coverage of Arts& Culture', in Gaborone.

The workshop, hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), was held to educate the media on the importance of promoting and marketing the culture industry with the aim of increasing the quantity and quality of coverage of cultural heritage. Chifunyise highlighted the role of the media as the principle instrument for consciousness-raising around issues of culture and heritage, including creating an awareness of celebration days and events.

Chifunyise, an arts, culture and education consultant and renowned Zimbabwean theatre director, lamented the fact that Africans are often lagging behind in prioritizing the development and promotion of the creative economy despite the industry's growth potential. "Even in a recession, one area that does not shrink is the creative industry", he said.

The media was also urged to take special note of the numerous international celebration days that take place throughout the year, and publicise the events organized to commemorate these days. "These days are created by the United Nations, associations and departments to honour creativity" and provided an opportunity to examine and ask questions about the various segments of the arts and culture, Chifunyise said.

However, it was also revealed that obstacles to the increased attention to arts and culture events remained. Media practitioners noted that the competition for coverage, the duplication of commemoration days and instances of poor treatment of journalists at events were some the barriers that needed to be overcome. Despite this, Chifunyise urged journalists to make more space available for cultural heritage in the form of publicizing events and conducting reviews and analysis of cultural activities. He also reminded media practitioners that "journalists are part of our creative industry. They are artists themselves".

 

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