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BustopTV on a Creatives empowerment drive

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Thelma Wandayi

A vibrant cultural rich dominant multi-coloured dome-shaped was decorated with a galore of dynamic crystals. Just by a glance, you could see the variety and diverse beauty but their true African authentic nature stood out.

All in a bid to polish Zimbabwe’s finest raw diamonds around the edge so they can sparkle and glimmer on the digital platform so their raw talent is visible and worth every dime.

The cultural and creative industry has been immensely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite this ramification, BustopTV continues to impart knowledge through a digital skills training workshop.

22 passionate creative artists in different facets of the arts and culture industry were empowered on the much needed digital skills in the evolving and transitioning ‘new normal’.

In the workshop, participants learnt how to creatively build digital platforms, engage audiences, amplify their craft through the various technical techniques, garner support and monetise their work.

Taffy Gotora, an integrated marketing communications and certified social media consultant also known as “Digital Bae”, says Zimbabwe has talented creatives and the digital skills would be useful and enhance their work globally amid the Covid 19 pandemic where many artists have shifted online. 

“There is an opportunity for creatives to monetise their work not only locally but internationally on the digital platforms and this can help them be able to receive their work’s worth especially during the new normal”, said Gotora

“Creatives must show resilience and professionalism to attract the corporate world and sell their brands. One of the challenges can be selling the digital campaign, so one has to know how to do business properly,” she added

Part of the programme featured Hip Hop artist, rapper Prince Butawo (Noble Stylz), who discussed how the digital platforms can work to their advantage, the importance of being relevant, staying on trend and branding.

“The biggest platform one can have is the one you own; one needs to put in the work to have a niche market one can control. For instance, during this pandemic some artists managed to create alternative streams of income while others were not as fortunate,” he said

 “This is why you would find other artists who had an army of strong followers would get booked. It is important for an artist to be relevant and to create a platform on their social media and not wait for radio or promoters to chip into their welfare”.

“We don’t want a suffering creative or arts industry this why it was important to have this workshop. The pandemic forced everyone to go digital and generate new ways of making an income, he further explained,” the rapper added.

Projects Officer for Culture Fund, Simbarashe Mudhokwani says culture and creative industry players are important. 

The main aim is to strengthen the capacities of creative CSO’s and cultural practitioners in Zimbabwe and support the creatives.

“As Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust’s Creative ACTIONs, supported by the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe, we are happy to have supported BustopTV which is part of the 22 projects granted. They are bringing artists together to contribute to practical and creative solutions,” said Mudhokwani. 

“A workshop aimed at improving creative artist skills on how to monetise their work in this ever-changing digital terrain is vital. We have talented creative artists who have been imparted with skills by other creative artists and digital experts,” he further elaborated.

Lucky Aron, producer and founder of BustopTV says there is a need to put in place mechanisms that will teach other creatives how to use social media platforms to push their work, make money, to be seen and heard via digital platforms.

“There is much training that needs to be done on how to effectively and efficiently use social media. As the world has moved to digital, maximizing social media as an extension of their brands is important. People aren’t following trends because they simply do not know how to,” he said 

“We hope to have a series of workshops around the country as it is now important for every artist to be online to push their work. Enormous challenges were posed by the current health crisis especially in the arts sector, recognizing these digital skills in today’s craft and tailoring it to the right audience and platform is important,” he added.

“As an actress, I can apply many tips to my projects and campaigns. I have a better understanding after being educated on branding, engagement. Managing my social media platform was an eye-opener in terms of a business aspect. As performers and artists, we need this knowledge to get our talent’s worth without being duped,” said participant actress Thelma Mukonza (Amai BiBi) 

Marble Ndlovu, a participant said “I am a maid and part-time actress this has helped me be able to understand a lot. The toolkit provided at the end of the training will allow me to revisit essential tips for activity planning at any time.” 

Commenting on the workshop, actress, Sharon Chideu popularly known as Magi says the training is essential as it seeks to strengthen the resilience of artists and cultural professionals in promoting engagement, and empowerment on the digital platforms.

“COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world order and brought about the new normal. The reality is it has forced everyone to go digital, this includes the arts sector as well. Creatives need to use digital space to make money not just a hustle but earn a living.”

“People always ask me if I have a side hustle or what other stream of income I have, but honestly this is it and a lot of people are puzzled by it and wonder how? This is my job and how I make a living and it doesn’t happen overnight to be successful.

“These pieces of training are important as they enlighten and empower the next generation so they don’t have to struggle as we did, so if we change the mindset of many the next generation won’t struggle to do art and not get paid from it”.

“We need more creative artists and these kinds of workshops in our industries. This was an opportunity to empower others, upcoming and existing creative artists we need to know these things. An empowered artist cannot be used, duped or underpaid. Hopefully, soon we hope to have these workshops more in all provinces and engaging with creatives”, shared Dereck Nziyakwi, a co-cast member who plays DRC on BustopTV comedy

As the world grapples with the current health crisis, there is a need to support the arts industry as one of the most affected sectors in our society.

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