Lack of funding threatens sculpture

Most sculptors are living from hand to mouth as demand for their products declines, says the National Arts Council.

“Dominic Benhura seems to be one of the few sculptors who have managed to come out of his shell and conquer the world. Dominic owns houses and properties in the capital but for many of his counterparts, making a living from their talent is proving to be a futile exercise,” said Elvas Mare on the sidelines of National Arts Merit Awards last week. Arnold Gudza of Cultural Stones in Karoi said most sculptors were considering abandoning the industry because they had failed to earn a decent living from it.

“We are trying to shrug off the tag that sculptors are dirty and unorganised,” he said.

Gudza said sculptors in Karoi used to take their wares to Kariba to sell them to tourists – but they have since abandoned it because there are not enough tourists to make it worth their while.

Effort Birimahwe, who sells his sculpts at Darwendale along Harare-Chinhoyi Road, said the challenges have forced some of his colleagues to seek greener pastures in other countries. “Travellers used to drop by picking one or two pieces but these days we can go for months without selling one piece,” he said. The government has been urged to support the sculpture industry with funds and avenues for cultural exchange programmes with other countries.

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