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Most visual artists that graced the just-ended Harare International Festival of the Arts hailed the festival for providing a platform to market their art to international visitors.

The majority of artists who were showcasing their products at the festival said the platform presented by HIFA was helping them in networking as well as widening their markets.

Donald Zvaitika, a pyrography artist said HIFA gave artists an opportunity to sell their wares to a diverse market.

“This is an international event and we get clients from all over the world and that alone is a big aantage for us artists.

“At times clients and potential buyers do not know where to locate us but with this platform, we are sure now to have clients visiting us even at our workshops because now we have met potential clients,” he said.

Clinton Musonzi who is a metal craft artist said the major highlight of the festival was the high volume of sales that are pushed during the six day celebrations.

“I am pretty positive that there is no other time that we have big sales like we do during HIFA because there are a lot of art lovers here present and these people will certainly want to carry home with them souvenirs and that’s is how we benefit,” he said.

Another artist, Royd Bisiswasi who specializes in can and bottle top art said the festival gives artists an opportunity to exchange notes and learn a thing or two from one another.

“Everyday an artist can learn a thing or two but a festival such as this one allows the convergence of artists and as a result we not only get the opportunity to know one another as artists, but it also gives us the opportunity to learn from one another,” said the artist.

Belinda Clowes who specialises in African fabric art said the exhibition opens up new business opportunities.

“Besides pushing up our sales, the HIFA platform opens up new business opportunities as we get the chance to network and get contacts from potential clients.

“Interestingly I have just been invited by an art fanatic to take part in an art exhibition in Cape Town,” she said. Matty Mushande, a leather and hessian artist who has been attending the festival for the past five years said the platform presented was helpful but would have helped much if the days were increased.

“For some artists this event probably highlights their highest sales for the year given the short period it runs so it would have meant a lot to them had the festival increased the days to like a fortnight,” said Mushande.

Although the majority of artists seem to be having a good time selling their wares and enjoying the proceedings, it was not the same for others.

Gumisai Bhonzo an artist and the director of Zimbabwe Mighty Women of Hope (ZMWH) said all was not rosy in her camp as the HIFA administrators had directed them not to exhibit some of their products.

“My organisation which represents ex-convicts and women living with HIV, had members contributing towards the exhibition fee so they expected to have their products on our stand.

“It was however unfortunate that some of the products were deemed to be of poor quality by the powers at HIFA. That has affected those members whose products were removed so much, as some had travelled from as far as Mutoko only to be told that their products have failed to make it.

“We want to appeal to the leaders of HIFA to allow exhibitors to showcase all they have as we are now in a precarious position with some of our members who were expecting a positive turnaround,” she explained.

Source : The Herald