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AfricanColours Artists’ Association an associate of the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust-Sweden-European Union Partnership will be conducting three major Intellectual Property (IP) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) workshops for artisans, craft entrepreneurs, visual artists, art institutions, media houses and other stakeholders to be facilitated by IP experts and this writer with regard to visual arts and artistic works.

The IP and IPRs workshops are scheduled for April 7 in Harare, Bulawayo April 10,and April 14, 2015for Mutare.

AAA is an associate of the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust-Sweden-European Union Partnership and will also be working in partnership with the National Galleries of Zimbabwe in the three regions on the workshops necessitated by serious concerns that majority of Zimbabwean visual artists have been unfairly taken aantage of by various local and foreign art institutions, art dealers and collectors, copycats, various print and electronic media platforms with regard to the usage of their work without consent.

The workshops are mainly to educate artists on IP and IPRs and the implementation of the laws in Zimbabwe.

This will enable them to legally protect their artistic work, negotiate fair deals with regard to usage of their work and to pursue legal channels in cases of infringement of their rights on their work. Numerous of their infringement cases and potential cases have passed unresolved due to ignorance on part of the practitioners on the legal laws that protect them.

This writer also the chairperson of the AfricanColours Artists’ Association with funding from the Culture Fund -Sweden-European Union Partnership has been researching and compiling information on Essence of Intellectual Property in Visual Arts and Crafts Marketing and the document has gone through validation by legal authority, IP experts, artists and other major stakeholders. There will free distribution of the digitally printed document for all at the major workshops and strategic art institutions and representatives from various artists’ associations will be given copies for further distribution.

The today world is characterised by a landscape that is favourable to the spoiling of consumers with unimaginable choice.

The trading laws now promote the free flowing of goods making it highly competitive for the creative sector especially for visual artists and crafters. Artisans, craft entrepreneurs, visual artists and all the intermediaries in the supply chain must constantly strive to improve the quality of their products and services, the production processes, their brand identity and the effectiveness of their marketing strategies, if they wish to improve their business performance, productivity and competitiveness and win the hearts and minds of customers.

Market analysis especially competitors and consumerists trends becomes imperative for sailing through.

In the past visual artists’ and crafters’ handmade work seemed could not be substituted for machine made products, but in the new world of technological aancement biased towards volumes of customisation and personalisation of products, the visual artists and crafters business challenges approach from various angles.

Economic doldrums like the recent developed world’s financial crisis and persistent poverty in developing nations regulate consumerisation deeply affecting business transactions for visual artists and crafters as their products are not basic human necessities. Essential tool for artisans and visual artists lies in their creativity and craftsmanship abilities.

This gives their output a distinct traditional, cultural or symbolic flavour, which arouses the interest and matches the emotional needs and aesthetic tastes of discerning customers in specialised niches of domestic and export markets. Even so, attracting and retaining consumers is a daunting task in an overcrowded marketplace, where consumers find ample choice and alternatives and where competitors are constantly searching for successful product trends. Given today’s instant information and communication facilities, coupled with the ease and speed of copying and imitation, the market can simply get flooded with look-alike products or downright copies, which are also known as “counterfeits” or “forgeries”.

The real challenge for artisans and visual artists is thus not just to produce and market winning new products that cater to changing consumer tastes, but also to prevent or if unable to prevent then to effectively deal with unfair competition or theft of their creative ideas.

Intellectual Property system is the best available tool for creating and maintaining exclusivity over creative and innovative output in the marketplace, albeit for a specified maximum period of time.

The effective use of IP can also help artisans and visual artists to develop networks and relationships not only with end consumers, but also with all the links in the supply and demand networks. If artisans and visual artists are to get a fair return from their creativity in the marketplace, it is important for them to follow a planned and systematic marketing strategy which integrates the use of the tools provided by the system of IP rights.

This must begin with a basic understanding of the principles of marketing and of the IP system, along with a broad recognition of the value of IP assets in marketing and practical guidance in making proper use of them.

The highly competitive nature of the marketing process compels each country to protect culture-based goods as a substantial part of its national cultural heritage. This is especially relevant for many developing countries and countries in transition, in which the role of the craft and visual arts sectors can prove to be pivotal for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

For policy-makers in government, business and civil society in these countries, defending the interests of artisans, craft entrepreneurs and visual artists against unfair competition is becoming critical in order to underpin their commercial success and their contribution to individual and collective wealth creation, as well as to preserve cultural identity and diversity.

Source : The Herald

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