Malawian artists worry coronavirus to hit their pockets

Local arts players have confessed being hit hard by the coronavirus (Covid-19)pandemic which has affected various countries around the world. In random interviews, artists in the country say the pandemic has stopped them from doing things that bring food on their tables as well as connect them with their fans.

Events manager and poet Qabaniso Malewezi in an interview yesterday said the situation has affected the local creatives as they have had to cancel shows.He said: “It has affected us heavily. We had about five cancellations for our artist Nyago. She was scheduled to perform at two festivals and also was booked for some corporate performances. This has resulted in a heavy loss in revenue.”

Malewezi said the virus has presented a huge challenge to the performing arts sector.“However, there are alternatives, but they are not accessible to every artist. An example is to hold live streaming events. This can only work if the artist has a good online presence and social media following,” he said. Malewezi said another challenge is on remuneration via access to  live stream.

Faith Mussa’s manager Sam Chiwaka said it is about time artists have different ideas to make money such as live streaming.“But they need to find ways to monetise streaming by doing product placement if they have to go that route,” he said.

In a separate interview artist Phyzix said the pandemic has forced him to cancel all his planned shows. “I have lost income from the shows I have cancelled especially the countrywide Kugawa Makofi Tour and other bookings made by different organisations and promoters,” he said.

Phyzix said in this situation, artists’ only hope is to maximise digital reach. “With more people staying at home for an indefinite period, they will have time to listen to songs and watch videos,” he said. The hip-hop artist said this is possible so long as artists get innovative. “My hope is that we think ahead as we don’t know what will happen and when,” he added.

One of the platforms that artists use to showcase their talent is Jacaranda Cultural Centre, which has also temporarily closed shop.

Coordinator of Sounds of Malawi artist Code Sangala said much as the situation presents complications to artists in terms of live shows, it is also an opportunity to think outside the box. “For Sounds of Malawi, we will be rebroadcasting all our acoustic sessions through our social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” he said.

Sangala said this provides an opportunity for followers to enjoy all the sessions that they missed. “At this point, artists need to really strike a deal with the cellular network providers so they can benefit from digital marketing distribution,” he said.

Code said his album Mizu, which was scheduled to be officially released on May 28 at Jacaranda Cultural Centre, is already available on global digital platforms such as Spotify, Amazon and Deezer, among others.

In a separate interview Jesus Can Multimedia director Innocent Nkhwazi said Covid-19 is threatening the survival of the photography industry.

“Just imagine I had a contract with the African Development Bank, but after one week of shooting their activities, we have stopped as officials have gone back home. They say they will advise us when we can resume work. I am worried,” he said. Nkhwazi added that many are also cancelling their wedding photography bookings.

Other forms of art equally affected by the coronavirus are drama, dance and emceeing.