Artists ought to fully exploit Feel Free Grant opportunity - call

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 06:00 AM Jun 11 2024

Nafasi Art Space Board of Directors Chairman Paul Ndunguru (C), speaks at a signing ceremony for the 2024 Feel Free Grantees which took place at the center's premises in Dar es Salaam last weekend.
Photo: Guardian Correspondent
Nafasi Art Space Board of Directors Chairman Paul Ndunguru (C), speaks at a signing ceremony for the 2024 Feel Free Grantees which took place at the center's premises in Dar es Salaam last weekend.

TANZANIA's visual artists should ensure their profession has a significant impact on people from all walks of life if they are to make the most of the profession.

The Feel Free Grant is an initiative implemented by the Dar es Salaam contemporary art center, Nafasi Art Space, and funded by the Norwegian Embassy and Switzerland Embassy in Tanzania.

It is designed to encourage artists, cultural practitioners, organizations, and institutions from all artistic disciplines - who love to create and connect with art - without placing restrictions on either themes or topics that are driven by external influences.

It can hardly be likened to other funds that artists have previously had access to for a long time, which have restrictive rules on how artists should express and create art, leading to projects that are less impactful for artists and audiences.

Minzi, one of the beneficiaries of the 2024 Feel Free Grant, pointed out that local visual artists and their colleagues in the other forms of arts should look into having their knowledge make an impact on needy people in the community so they can have fulfillment financially and professionally.

He insisted that visual artists should look into getting useful ideas from various groups of needy people so they can successfully carry out their artistic projects based on such ideas.

Minzi turned into one of the 2024 Feel Free Grantees via his project, termed Sanaa na Wanawake (SAWA). It is a transformative initiative aimed at increasing the participation of women in the arts, particularly those residing in the rural areas of Mwanza who lack access to visual arts training.

This comprehensive program is designed to equip young female artists with the necessary skills and knowledge in visual arts, from concept development to exhibition.

The visual artist, also a member of Nafasi Art Space, disclosed that his project will be implemented in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, conducting workshops on creating artworks via painting, seeking to increase the number of women engaging in the art.

According to him, there had, in the past, been extremely few women who turned up for workshops and exhibitions on painting that he and fellow visual artists had organized and the situation prompted him to come up with the initiative.

Minzi stated he had previously organized exhibitions at Nafasi Art Space and outside the center, adding he had over seven trainees.

The artist disclosed that out of the trainees, four have gone on to operate professionally. The success, he noted, motivated him to apply for Feel Free Grant so he can successfully implement his initiative.

Minzi said there has, of late, been an increasing number of women turning up for workshops and eventually participating in painting exhibitions, thus, he feels the community is now viewing the visual art form as a valuable profession. 

Through hands-on training sessions, the SAWA participants will delve into various aspects of painting, learning techniques and methodologies that will enable them to effectively translate their creative visions into tangible artworks.

The Tanzania Arts Council (BASATA) Director of Arts Promotion and Development, Edward Buganda, who graced the 2024 Feel Free Grantees' signing ceremony, congratulated the recipients of the 2024 Feel Free Grant and expressed the council's appreciation to Nafasi Art Space and its partners for coming up with the initiative.

Nafasi Art Space Managing Director, Lilian Hipolyte, mentioned other recipients of the fourth cohort of the 2024 Feel Free Grant as Lilian Munuo, Mihayo Kallaye, Ally Baharoon, Bwagamoyo Africulture, Kijiweni Productions, ASEDEVA, and Ekande Tanzania. 

She expressed the center's gratitude to its core donors, the Embassy of Switzerland in Tanzania and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania.

The donors' unwavering support, Lilian pointed out, has made the Feel Free Grant a success, and their commitment to fostering artistic excellence and cultural exchange is deeply appreciated.