President Edgar Lungu has said that the PF government attaches great importance to the role that Artists play in the economic development of the country.
Speaking during the launch of the Youth Empowerment Scheme Targeting Artists and the Presidential Choral and Arts Festival at Government Complex in Lusaka today, President Lungu said since the creation of the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, his government has demonstrated that artists are Key players in national development.
In a speech read on his behalf by Vice president Inonge Wina, President Lungu stated that he has noted with happiness that the country’s arts sector has been registering tremendous growth, which has attracted both local and foreign attention.
He further said that the PF government has further noted with happiness an increase in local content on television as well as an increase in attendance to Zambian concerts, festivals fairs, and exhibitions.
“All this is as a result of the enabling environment that my government, in collaboration with stakeholders has put in place,” President Lungu said.
And the head of state has stated that the two signature programs that his government has launched today will bring the country together and empower artists.
President Lungu also announced that government plans to indirectly reach at least 15, 000 artists across the country from the 10, 000 artists that the National Arts Council of Zambia is targeting to reach through the festival.
He explained that the Youth Empowerment Scheme Targeting Arts and the Presidential Choral and Arts Festival are the two interventions that have been structured to provide relief to a sector that has been negatively impacted by COVID 19.
President Lungu has since urged the National Arts Council to take a consultative approach and ensure that the scheme benefits as many artists as possible.
He has also urged artists that will access the funds to be accountable the funds and use them for the intended purpose.
“You have been asking for such an intervention from your government, this is not the time to be merry but to do the work that needs to be done,” President Lungu said.
And Speaking earlier, Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela said the two programmes that have been launched are in response to the challenges that artists have been facing particularly in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Chitotela explained that performing artists have lost income opportunities , jobs and have struggled to earn a living as they can no longer host shows while craft artists cannot sell their work due to the reduced number of tourists.
He further stated that the approval of the K30 million Youth Empowerment Scheme targeting artists and the Presidential Choral and Arts festival was not a random act by the head of state but a strategic decision which was made in the winder context of the Seventh National development Plan to diversify the economy and expand job opportunities for youths.