Visual artists’ Brazilian dream needs push

Kundai Marunya

Arts Correspondent

A group of visual artists who are travelling to Brazil for a cultural exchange programme this week are appealing for funds to cover travel costs.

The group of four artists and one media personnel travelling under the banner of Hillock Arts Foundation, an organisation that teaches art in underprivileged communities, were scheduled to leave the country last Thursday for two weeks, but had to postpone to this week to raise at least US$6 000 for return air fares.

The artists are travelling at the invitation of Instituto ReggArte, a collective of artists and professionals that organises social events and cultural campaigns to collect food, clothes and toys to help underprivileged communities.

The institution has a reach of around 170 families which they also assist with cultural activities and occupational therapy.

In an invitation letter seen by Herald Arts, Instituto ReggArte cultural producer Nair Omena da Costa said her organisation will not be assisting the artists with travel expenses.

“Our work aims to promote the visibility of artists with disabilities and as we survive on donations from partners we will not be able to support the expenses regarding this cultural exchange,” wrote da Costa.

“It will be of great value for us to have you here and we kindly ask you to find a sponsor to provide the necessary costs for your stay.”

Hillock Arts Foundation founder and president Raphael Jamu said they received assistance from the Brazilian Ambassador, but still fell short of travel funds.

“The Ambassador of Brazil to Zimbabwe His Excellency Vilmar R Coutinho Jr has been very helpful,” said Jamu.

“He assisted us with courtesy visas and went out of his way to fund part of the trip, showing his commitment towards cultural exchange between Zimbabwe and Brazil.

“We are, however, still falling short of finances to cover the trip, especially air fares, and we are appealing to well-wishers for assistance.”

Hillock recently held an exhibition to raise funds but failed to make any money as most went towards expenses of putting together the show.

Jamu said they had many pledges that went unfulfilled.

“We had been promised funds by different sources, but we have not yet received anything, thus postponing our travel by a week, hoping something will pun out,” he said.

“Since postponing, we have approached different corporates and Government officials, and we pray and hope the funds will be raised.

“We are even willing to be offered work in exchange for the funds.”

Jamu is a renowned artist who has done portraits for top Government officials, including President Mnangagwa, the First Lady, Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation Dr Kirsty Coventry, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya, the late South African revolutionary icon Nelson Mandela and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, among others.

Travelling with Jamu are Lydia Molai, a young artist who majors in landscape and portraits, Winston Thulani Mudumo, who has an amazing talent for painting and jewellery and Message Pikitayi, an educator who also doubles as the foundation’s administrator.

Jamu said the opportunity was too big to miss.“We are at a time we need to improve our global participation, not only as artists but as Zimbabwe, and representing Zimbabwe in Brazil, one of the world’s fastest rising economies is a great opportunity we really can’t afford to miss,” he said.

Hillock Arts Foundation’s visit to Brazil comes soon after Ambassador Coutinho Jr pronounced cultural exchange as one of the key point he will work towards during his stay in Zimbabwe.

“For the past 12 months I have made several important contacts in this country from which I hope, several bilateral exchanges will be developed in several areas including agriculture, mining, trade and investments, renewable energies and cultural and education exchanges,” he said during a recent celebration of his country’s 201st National day celebration.

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