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Content is king in knowledge economy

AS promised, this week follows on last week’s installment, in which I tackled the actual Bulawayo Arts Awards a bit before segueing into a sort of activism on behalf of a sector I believe has the potential to help our nation carve out a new economically lucrative pathway.

By Admire Kudita

Arts in knowledge economy
It never gets tiring to reiterate the cliché that content is king, more so in the knowledge economy, which is largely driven by ideas. The most innovative ideas, which are protected and patented, tend to reap for their creators a lot of revenue. Again, the intersection with ICTs helps power that revolution which has seen the creation of a massive, almost monolithic global village community exchanging vast amounts of content on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Small wonder, Mark Zuckerberg is worth billions of dollars. He brought us all together in a clever way.

The Bulawayo Arts Awards
In similar fashion, thousands of viewers watched the Bulawayo Arts Awards from across the world. To be precise, when I spoke to Zenzele Ndebele of CITE, which live-streamed the event, over 20 000 viewers watched the event. Of course, that was just one night, the night of June 29. The content remains online, perched on the World Wide Web’s ubiquitous cyberscape. Anywhere in the world, you can always watch the show at any time you decide. That is the power of the age.

Show goes on
But it did go on for too long, it can be argued. Scheduled to start at around 7pm, it started way past that hour on a chilly winter night and the sisters were dressed in a manner which exposed them to the “thuggery of a determined winter season”. I even saw a young man confidently walk with freezing damsel in tow in fine suit seemingly not interested in the sort of chivalry one would expect; which was to offer his jacket. Upon that heartless night, I wondered to myself as to what the organisers were really waiting for. That is one of my critiques for them aside from the bouquets they have received.

“This is not a winter event. Hall 4 was too big for now. We need to align with party goers and probably move event to summer. It’s not about the nominees only anymore. More money is needed,” Simon Mambazo Phiri agrees, who alongside Reason Sibanda, Nkululeko Nkala and Raisedon Baya are the organisers of the awards, which started in 2017.

Production value
“The idea was to go all out and package Bulawayo as the only city that can stage a proper multi-cultural show without importing any talent. We wanted the audience to forget that they were in Bulawayo and watch a world-class product for a change. Mixing the awards with the performances was my highlight experiment and lows were when we failed to secure climate control equipment for the venue as it proved costly,” explained Phiri who was the show producer.

Everything that happened on stage that night was his ultimate responsibility and, barring the duration of the show which stretched into the wee hours of the morning, the celebration was as superb as it was costly. But that is showbiz.

The end game
One hopes that the city council accepts the awards as an institution to leverage its tourism product. Doing so is a way to brand Bulawayo as a city of creative and leisure pursuits. Hopefully that will attract tourists. But a strategy needs to be conceived towards that end.

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