Amplifaya Fest goes continental Plot Mhako

Kundai Marunya

Arts Correspondent

After a successful début that saw upcoming musicians hogging the limelight performing on a world-class stage, Amplifaya Festival has grown to involve acts from across the continent in its second edition.

EarGround, the festival organisers, has deliberately skipped hosting the event that spotlights new voices in music this year to prepare for bigger festivities next year.

Instead, they have lined up a series of “Amplifaya Mixers”, interactive discussion forums created to raise awareness around the festival, while discussing issues affecting the local arts sector with hopes to come up with lasting solutions in building a viable arts industry.

The first mixer was held last week at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare, with a bumper crowd that included big names in film, music, visual arts and animation.

Amplifaya Festival director, Plot Mhako, said they were targeting to have a programme with regional and continental participants.

“The festival has gone continental”, said Mhako. “We are going to start with a regional drive but we are targeting to have participants from all over the continent coming through in terms of performances, workshops, speakers, and other facets of programming.

“Literally we are creating the next biggest festival in Zimbabwe; which is going to happen in April/ May next year for three days, so the mixers are actually a build-up towards that.”

The new dates coincide with those that the continent’s biggest arts festival, the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) used to be held for 16 years before it shut down in 2015 due to lack of financing.

Mhako said they were trying to come up with sustainable alternatives

“There is a gap, there is a void left by some of the big festivals in Zimbabwe and we are going to offer sustainable alternatives.”

Mhako said the festival that has now adopted the Amplifya Africa Festival will be the space to witness the continent’s new big acts.

“In terms of programming we are going to see this festival be the go-to space where you will experience Africa’s next superstar.

“One of the improvements you will see is that it’s a festival that connects to the current trends and dynamics in terms of innovation, technology, and creating synergies.

“We are hoping that we will be able to connect all the stakeholders as we have done, be they from government, civic society, embassies; because we are connecting to other countries and also the corporate sector and the creative community.

“There is a buy-in from the local artists as you have seen from our first Amplifaya Mixer; that is a good indication of where we are going, something that will give people a new fresh experience and put Zimbabwe on the international pedestal, where we get a festival that at least gets international recognition, where people look forward to coming.”

The Amplifaya Mixer had a panel of veterans in the arts sector including First Floor Gallery director Marcus Gora, who is also the deputy chair of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and manager to widely travelled afro-fusion band Mokoomba.

Moffat Takadiwa

The panel also had veteran film-maker, Rumbi Katedza, celebrated visual artist Moffat Takadiwa, seasoned animator Kombo Chapfika and celebrated musician Nutty O.

They discussed the state of the arts in their different disciplines and how the sector can grow.

Also present were US Embassy officials who gave insights into visa application processes for artists and how best to ship their artwork to the country.

Mhako said the event was a success.

“The Amplifaya Mixer was a huge success based on the response from the creatives and the nature of the panellists we had there and the nature of the conversations we had that were profound, progressive, and embraced by everyone who came through,” he said.

“We had a much bigger turnout than we had anticipated which means there is a hunger out there from artists to get into such spaces and conversations and build our creative and cultural industry in Zimbabwe.”

Amplifya Mixer will have two more editions in September and November this year.

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