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International tours sole hope for local artistes?


TOURING Europe is undoubtedly the fantasy of every artiste in Zimbabwe. Artistes who have been to Europe busk in fame and glory while local ones wallow in self-pity and inferiority complex.

Own Correspondent

While critics have argued that an artiste does not need to tour Europe in order to make a name, many local artistes have in the past jostled for international shows.

Although artistes argue that they don’t go to Europe to make money, the country’s arts industry characterised by a long chequered history of poverty, aptly explains why artistes flock to Europe — that is to earn a living!

As local artistes struggle to make ends meet due to the poor local industry, those who have been lucky to attract international clients have been able to salvage a living — at least an “Arcadian life”.

Debates and speculations have in the past taken centre stage regarding the “glitz and the glamour” of artistes who have had an opportunity to tour Europe with some critics asserting that they live in abject poverty while they (artistes) suggest otherwise.

This week Southern Eye Lifestyle sought an inside story from some of the local arts industry’s celebrated artistes who have dazzled international scenes.

“Europe is a working place as good as Africa is. The difference is that it offers more work opportunities for artistes than Africa does,” Nkululeko Innocent Dube the director of globetrotting Iyasa said.

“The fact is that when you export whatever product you produce, returns are better. Europe is not a place of gold. There is no money awash on the streets for pickings.

“I think the problem is that most of us have the mentality that when one starts touring internationally then they would become rich,” Dube argued.

Dube took a swipe at the flickering arts industry and charged that it should improve so that artistes get better rewards.

Some arts administrators have been accused of exploiting artistes especially after rich pickings from international tours ,but Dube said they were artistes who felt short-changed and were free to seek “greener pastures” elsewhere.

He also argued that while European tours paid better compared to local markets, expenses which artistes incurred during their stay in Europe gobbled up their earnings.

Sensational jazz muso Jeys Marabini who has also been frequently touring Europe weighed in: “Fans think that when artistes go overseas they make a lot of money, but we go there to work like everyone else and make names for ourselves through arts.”

“Performing overseas is a good international market for our products. Fans should know that it takes time to build a name in the arts industry so as to start making money.”

Another much-travelled local artiste Vusi Mkhaya Ndlovu advised that artistes must be aware of their “packages” before touring Europe to avoid surprises.

“Artistes must insist on transparent contracts with their managers and booking agents to avoid surprises after their tours.

“Europe or any other country can be a ‘place of gold’ if you know how to handle the arts business well and also if you treat it as a business and you work hard and are disciplined.”

While most artistes who have toured Europe seemed to vehemently dispel the assertion that they make a killing with international shows, they, however, conceded that international tours had over the years been a lifeline for struggling artistes locally.

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