THE inaugural two-day Zimbabwe Arts Festival (ZARTS) held on Friday and Saturday at Alexandra Sports Club in Harare was a huge flop and a far cry from what the event organiser-cum-director of Bumris Entertainment, Rumbidzai Mudenge, had guaranteed.


While many artistes who performed at the festival might have smiled all the way to the bank, according to sources privy to the developments, Mudenge was left counting huge losses as the festival failed to attract the intended numbers.

With a colourful line-up of performers headlined by the crème de la crème of Zimbabwean music, who are also crowd pullers on their own, among them Winky D, Jah Prayzah, grandee Oliver Mtukudzi and Sulumani Chimbetu, Mudenge appeared to have hit the jackpot, but her huge investment failed to bring the desired results.

The event failed to live up to its billing, as it was poorly organised and attended, such that the gatherings could not even match the crowd that either one of the above artistes would attract at solo performances.

On both days, the artistes performed before an “empty” venue.

Despite poor attendances, the artistes, however, showed commitment and professionalism, putting up sterling performances for the handful of fans who attended.

Notable was the absence of the glitz and glamour expected to be associated with a festival of such a magnitude — earlier touted to become a rival of the Harare International Arts Festival and the annual Shoko Festival.

The good stage and quality sound system from the public address system is also worth mentioning.

While many followers of showbiz matters said Mudenge shot herself in the foot as she was too ambitious, some music promoters, however, expressed sympathy and urged her to consult gurus of showbiz promotion, if she is to continue organising events of such magnitude in the future.

Arts critic-cum-promoter Plot Mhako said: “A lot of people think organising an event is a walk in the park. It is always good to ask those in the game. Advise comes for free.”

Award-winning promoter Tichaona Mharadze of 2 Kings Entertainment said the idea was great, but Mudenge needed more support and make the event an annual one.

Former Seh Calaz and Stunner’s manager, Godfrey “Vokal BaJordan” Bakasa, shared similar sentiments with Mharadze, urging Mudenge to work hard in marketing to sell the festival idea to revellers, adding it was a good idea.

While efforts to get a comment from Mudenge were fruitless yesterday, as her mobile phone was not reachable by time of going to print, in the build-up to the event, she told NewsDay that the festival was an acknowledgement of players in the arts industry for their hard work and unification and enjoyment of Zimbabweans.

“It is the vision of my company to have the Zimbabwe Arts Festival be a refreshing platform where all artists of Zimbabwean decent locally and globally can show their fellow Zimbabweans at home what they have been creating,” she said then.

Zim arts fest stutters to life : NewsDay Zimbabwe.

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