Hivos Southern Africa dished out a feast of arts, attracting massive audiences at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) held from May 2 to 7 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Leveraging on its long history of supporting the arts sector in Zimbabwe, the Hivos Southern Africa exhibition stand featured a potpourri of artistic activities including music performances, spoken word and comedy among others.
The Hivos Open Lounge and Stage proved popular with the festival goers, some of whom described it as a festival within a festival. The Open Lounge and Stage was designed in such a way that audiences could get inspired by great creative, artistic showcases during the festival.
Hivos also invited Thabanie Dube aka Ras Thabanie, a reggae musician based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, to be the key performer. Besides daily musical performances, Ras Thabanie managed to collaborate with many artistes.
Other top artists who performed at the Hivos Open Lounge and Stage include Nyamasvisva, Pauline Gunduza, and Sebede among others. Festival goers with a creative itch were also invited to perform at the open stage.
"This is an interesting concept, it certainly represents a new way to take the arts to the people," said Farai Mupfunya, Director of the Culture Fund in Zimbabwe.
It was anticipated that the Hivos Open Lounge and Stage could lead to powerful ideas, identification of new talent and life-changing collaborations. It was designed as a physical place where creatives could meet ordinary people to bring creative influences and creative acts.
Overall, the Hivos Open Lounge and Stage helped to foster a collaborative, urban and “buzzy” atmosphere that supported face-to-face, intimate interaction between artists and members of the public. It also enabled Hivos Southern Africa to communicate and engage with a wider audience
The Open Lounge and Stage hub concept can be replicated anywhere where space allows. Hivos offers places where creative frontrunners can share resources, explore, exchange and experiment. Hivos believes that we need daring, creative minds, who push the boundaries of imagination and restrictive legislation; frontrunners who come up with new content, forms and channels to reclaim public space.
Since its inception in 1999, the Festival has received recognition for its support of arts and culture in Zimbabwe and is seen as a major contributor to development in this area. HIFA is now the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe, among the eight major festivals in Africa and a significant player on the international Arts and Culture circuit.
The six-day festival and workshop programme showcased the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre, dance, music, circus, street performance, spoken word, visual art