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MBABANE – Eswatini National Council of Arts and Culture (ENCAC) CEO Stanley Dlamini says the sudden change in trends in the industry called for a review of the arts and culture policy.

The arts and culture policy was reviewed on Friday at The George Hotel during a conference that was attended by artists, event organisers, promoters, and dignitaries from the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs. In an interview with this publication after the conference, Dlamini shared that the sudden change in trends in the industry called for a review of the arts and culture policy.“I think one of the issues is that everyone’s government policy must be reviewed after five years. The other issue is that there are emanating issues that require us to review the policy; the trends have changed, whether in the art industry or generally, so our sector was not active 10 years ago but now it is more active, which calls for the policy to be reviewed,” Dlamini said.

When probed on what are some of the activities that the council is doing to match the current trends, he shared that they were on a drive to launch centres that would enable the maximum development of artists locally. “What we are doing in the art and culture space is that we are moving to the regions. In the next two to three weeks, we will be launching regional art centres, where we want more artists to emerge in the regions. More music will be recorded from the regions. More artists who would have otherwise had challenges in terms of getting their music on CDs or any form of platform will now have access because, getting to the regions, we will be dealing with issues of rehearsal spaces and jamming spaces,” Dlamini said. During the presentation of the Arts and Culture Policy, the Arts Council made a declaration that they would be encouraging local broadcasters to broadcast 90 per cent locally produced content. When probed on how the council will go about advocating for the national broadcasters, he shared that they are currently working on a strategy that broadcasters will be obliged to use.

“We are going to make sure that there is buy-in from national broadcasters through a popularisation plan that we are yet to discuss as a council. We have interministerial committees, where the ministry will invite certain ministries that will have issues that cut across other ministries. Those meetings will be to mobilise broadcasters, where the arts and culture policy will be pointing these to your ministry and pointing that to your ministry, which will lead to the launch level where we will invite the ministries to advocate for national broadcasters on what the art council says,” Dlamini said.

He went on to share that more local material should be produced to empower broadcasters to align with the resolutions of the policy. “It is a trend that exists everywhere in the world. When you are a citizen of a particular country, you must enjoy the benefits of being a citizen. In football, they will call it home ground advantage.” In the arts, we say, “Let’s consume local and then move across. If you go to the radio or TV, you must listen to the Swazi voice, so we are building on that as well to say, let’s create more material because chances are that the radio is playing international music and there is not enough material, so let them correct their slogan if we have enough material to play local music,” Dlamini said.