From olden times to the present, women in Botswana have participated in the visual arts in varied and inspiring ways.
Whether as architects and visionaries of various forms of artistic expression, vital patrons and collectors, or important contributors to the discipline of art, women have been and continue to be essential to the institution of art.
For the most part, however, history has systematically excluded or masked women’s participation in the visual arts and that is a concern this year in the 2021 BTC Phonebook cover design and 2020 Thapong Artist of The Year (TAYA) competitions.
Thapong Visual Arts Centre coordinator Reginald Bakwena told Arts & Culture in an interview that they are still concerned that Thapong got to encourage women to participate in such competitions.
He revealed that both competitions have recorded a resounding success with 107 TAYA entries mostly young people with a high number of male standing at 85 while their female counterparts were only 22.
When it comes to the BTC phonebook cover, that is exclusive for individual students from all junior and senior schools, Bakwena said only 161 students participated nationwide with 114 being male and 47 being females. Looking at the number of women participation Bakwena said it is
“There is need to have gender balance even in the creative industry,” he highlighted.
Bakwena was however quick to acknowledge that the competition was too tough and would like to thank all participants. “Due to COVID-19 Thapong was unable to get a foreign judge this time around but we managed to get locals,”he said.
Asked whether closing of schools during lockdown affected students’ participation in the BTC Phonebook cover design competition Bakwena said COVID-19 has not affected the participation of students because the competition is annual and they are always prepared.
“During lock down most of the artist were working in isolation”, he added.
This year’s TAYA and BTC Phonebook cover competition awards will be hosted virtually and streamed live on BTC Facebook and Thapong Visual Arts Centre pages.
The date will be announced soon. The major sponsor of the competitions is BTC and other sponsors include MYSC, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and Thapong Visual Arts Centre.