WINDHOEK– The recent discussion session organised by ARTNam under the banner of the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre ‘Art Talk’ series proved a door-opener for many and an important step towards establishing a deeper understanding between the local artists and the media.
The organisers’ intention was to narrow down a real or imagined communication gap between the artist and the arts producer, on the one hand, and the journalist, radio presenter, media institution on the other. The theme of the discourse was: ‘The Media & Us – an Open Discussion on Cultural & Entertainment Reporting in Namibia’.
Managing Director of 99FM, Christine Hugo, at the very start of her presentation, asked for a show of hands as to how many artists and how many media representatives were in the house? The artists where in a majority, if only marginally, and the FNCC cinema was packed to the brim. In a frank and no-nonsense style that is her own, Christine Hugo, spoke about branding – the branding of a radio station versus the need for the artist to establish a brand of his/her own. Using the bigger-than-life brand of Oprah Winfrey as a vivid example, she maintained that radios were ‘selling ears’ to their advertisers. Thus, only if the two brands, that of the artist and that of the particular radio station were compatible or, even better, complimented each other, could a meaningful partnership ensue.
Lize Ehlers, well known musician, theatre activist, arts producer and overall ‘creative bubble’, advocated loyalty vis-à-vis any reporter who embraces the artist’s work and personality. Maria Indongo from the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) revealed the new avenues the NBC has embarked on to tighten collaboration with artists and arts’ institutions. Delia Magg-Thesenvitz briefly explained the use and advantages of her internet platform, What’s On Namibia, by and for arts event producers.
A strong media representation managed to keep the traditionally zealous artists present at bay. New Era, Namibian Sun, Allgemeine Zeitung, The Villager, the Namibian Economist, NBC Television & Radio, Unam Radio and 99FM ‘challenged’ members of the artist community and arts producers to research on the policies and preferences of the individual media organisation they wished to approach, and to come prepared when seeking personal exposure.
A number of artists were humbled and admitted that they had not sufficiently taken into account the varying forces that keep the media ‘ticking’. On the other hand a clear message was formulated by arts lovers, the Media Institute of Southern Africa Namibian Chapter (MISA Namibia) Director, Natasha Tibinyane, Robin Tyson, media trainer and former NBC TV news reader, Selma Kaulinge, communications officer of the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) and various artists present, namely, that the media should step up to the challenge of constructive critical reporting, when it comes to arts and entertainment. Jacques Mushaandja, theatre producer, musician and composer, put a question to the NBC, the private radios and the newspapers if cultural reporters were being trained in accordance with their trade, or whether they were being selected on the strength of their background and ability to comment on cultural affairs?
Big Ben, musician, composer – and a conscious moulder and producer of his own particular music brand – claimed that a journalist reporting on a music festival should come as prepared, be as inquisitive as is requisite when reporting on political and/or economic matters, for example. ‘Come and honour the occasion you have been assigned to report on – and add to it by bringing in your personal angle.’
It is plain from the interest displayed and the topics raised that there is a need for forums like this one. A conciliatory mood prevailed, not least, thanks to the capable management of the event by the master of ceremony, Naita Hishoono. Insofar an important foundation has been laid.
ARTNam is a voluntary organisation founded recently with the aim to bring about improved business parameters within the arts industry and to further the status of the individual artist in Namibia. ARTNam insofar builds on a collective of members, who contribute proactively towards furthering its objectives.
- A section of the audience listening to the panellists during the ‘Art Talk’ series held at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) recently.
- Visual artist, Papa Shikongeni, raising some of his concerns at the ‘Art Talk’ series held at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC).
Picture: Art 1