EXISTING art value systems in the country need to be seriously updated and brought in line with international standards, if arts and artists are to be truly respected as a creative sector with a future.
This is the basis for my argument in this retrospective overview.
As far as I know there are no real methods and value systems for most art disciplines, with the exception of a few competitions here and there among certain art disciplines such as the music industry.
Some of these events are so construed and/or concocted that those really deserving to be honoured are perpetually and unfairly overlooked.
The posthumous recognition of an artist has only recently been given its rightful place in the country’s growing theatre industry with the naming of a category in memory of the late outstanding actor, Ombili Katangolo, for the National Theatre of Namibia’s bi-annual Theatre Zone Competition.
A good gesture indeed, but in all probability already too late?
Rumours abound that the Theatre Zone Competition might not be held for the fourth time due to financial reasons, according to a reliable source closely connected to the event. If true it would be a very sad day for the national promotion of Namibian theatre.
If one takes into consideration that most worthy Namibian artists come from a marginalised and underprivileged background and yet they have been excelling in their works of art, they deserve better when honoured. In my view such artists should be honoured in a more tangible and dignified manner, living or dead.
This can serve as the first step towards reconciling the past with the present and the future. I am thinking of artists such as the late visual artist John Maufangego, musician, Willie Colins, and a number of others. In life these people contributed tremendously towards their respective art spheres. In some cases their families and offspring are still alive. Why not compensate those who have been left behind, left in a more precarious situation after the death of their artist breadwinners?
In this I see the newly established National Arts Council as the ultimate solution to this abnormality in the arts sector. Presently, the National Arts Council supports such efforts in the various disciplines.
Also, the problems of rural artists persists and will continue to persist unless something tangible is done with regard to the provision of art activity venues in the bigger and even smaller rural towns.
This problem was late last year reemphasised during a strategic planning workshop of the National Extension Programme of the College of the Arts. The argument then was that most art promoting venues are situated in the capital, denying rural artists such privilege.
Many rural artists have no real access to rural exhibition or performing halls, except for community halls, which are normally unaffordable. A way has to be found to resolve this issue with all local authorities if this raw deal to rural artists is to be permanently resolved in the interest of national arts promotion.