Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Limited Foundation in collaboration with Thapong Visual Arts Centre hosted an artist development workshop to facilitate and equip visual artists with an array of skills to improve and make their artwork more magnificent and appealing.
The two-day workshop is part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties towards promoting the arts and creative sector in Botswana. In 2018, the BTC Foundation agreed to sponsor Thapong with P1.7 million for three years to help create opportunities and open a window for the growth of the industry as an employer and revenue earner for artists.
During the workshop various topics such as self taught vs. academics, presence and participation in art events, opportunities and the markets and the role of education in artistic development were discussed.
The workshop facilitator, Obed Mokhuhlani advised artists should consider reproducing their work because it has value in other countries. He said by making a reproduction of prints artists could later auction the original artwork at higher price. Mokhuhlani also said artists should explore the suggestion and collaborate with photographers in the process. Other artists who commented on the matter also agreed that they need to collaborate more develop their arts by going back to the roots and finding the Botswana style.
For her part, Rebecca Akanyang Ntshingane said locally shops don’t want to support local artists. She suggested that the government should impose laws that will govern these shops to buy local products. “There are stumbling blocks, we should be taken seriously and be able to market art in our own country,”
“As stakeholders, we struggle to extricate ourselves from the ideology that views the arts as merely a part-time preoccupation designed only to entertain or delight. The arts must and should be viewed as a potential contributor to economic growth, job creation and social emancipation,” Golekanye Molapisi, Corporate Communications and PR Manager at BTC said.
The BTC Foundation, a vehicle through which BTC, delivers its corporate social responsibility mandate, is official sponsor of the BTC Phonebook cover design and TAYA competition. In line with the MOU between the two parties, the subject matter of the workshops, in Gaborone and Mahalapye, are based on learnings from benchmarking exercises to the SADC region, recommendations and feedback from various judges on the annual BTC Phonebook Cover and Thapong Artist of the Year Award (TAYA) competitions.
Molapisi added that through their MOU and sponsorship agreement, they want to develop the visual arts at grassroots level and afford artists an opportunity through workshops to share skills with an array of established professionals to ensure that local artists gain international exposure and widen their scope.
Thapong Visual Arts Centre Coordinator, Reginald Bakwena, said the workshop will enable artists to learn and pick -up skills from experienced artists and enhance their mastery in different areas such as craftsmanship, art criticism, innovation, artwork pricing and getting ready for competitions.