Visual arts growing in leaps and bounds

19th May 2017
Art appreciation grows but more needs to be done Source:The Midweek Sun

The Coordinator of Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Reginald Bakwena is impressed with the development of the visual arts in the country. Giving his personal views on the landscape of the visual arts locally, he explains that there is a new tide that is sweeping through the country.

Art appreciation has grown, he says, when one compares to previous years. The number of people who show interest and attend exhibitions has also grown tremendously. Another highlight worth celebrating is the fact that of late there is a high number of potential buyers who make enquiries about various pieces on display at exhibitions, as well as parents (who wish to see their children getting art lessons) and art students who visit the centre. “Government departments and the public are our biggest supporter when it comes to supporting the art through buying,” he says.

Bakwena says that these developments have led to artists taking their craft seriously and treating their passion as a business. He also explains that annual competitions such as the Thapong Visual Artist of the Year (TAYA), President’s Day celebrations and the Barclay’s L’ Aterlier competitions have afforded local artists with a platform to showcase their craft, and also measure their artistic abilities against their peers.

Bakwena however points out that there are still gaps that need to be explored in order to take the arts into the next stage of development. One of the hindrances that he has observed is the lack of resources and infrastructure. At the moment, he observes that there is still a gap to establish similar art centres in other areas across the country such Francistown and Ghanzi. He revealed that there were in talks to open an art centre in Francistown.

“Such centres will go a long way in providing artists with a platform where they can share and exchange ideas.”

He further notes that the lack of resources means that there is a challenge when some artists are accepted for Exchange Programmes and require funding. “An artists can struggle to raise funds,” he notes.

He also points out that while there are funding opportunities that seek to promote the art by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture as well as CIPA more still needed to be done.

Bakwena also highlights that lack of documentation is another drawback that makes it impossible to keep track of what is happening within the arts as a whole. Such documentation, he says can help in tracking how art contributes to the Gross Domestic Products of a country, and the direction that the art is taking. Other issues that needs to be taken into account, includes lobbying and establishing incubation programmes for young artists, as well as recording intangible arts. “The arts are developing but now it is time to move onto the next chapter,” he says.

Quizzed on what Thapong is currently doing to address some of the above mentioned challenges, he explains that they were keeping track of pieces that are bought, as well as a catalogue produced that details works of members who take part in TAYA, but observed that there was a need to incorporate other artists works as well. 

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