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CHIPAWO programme update
CHIPAWO
November 02, 2006

Children's Expo
There is exciting progress towards getting the Children's EXPO off the ground. CHIPAWO has now brought Chipo Mashingaidze and her team at 40:7 Blue Print (formerly 4th Dimension) on board and they are already coming up with some very exciting ideas, including a real brainwave for the name. It would be premature to unveil these now but it means the Expo is on course for its inauguration , probably in June next year. When the Action Plan and other preparations are in place, the Expo will be duly launched.

Collaborative Platform for Arts Education Since the end of last year representatives of the major arts education institutions in the country have been meeting to plan for the consolidation and enhancement of arts education in the country. At a recent one-day workshop at the National Gallery, the following organisations constituted their representatives as a Project Action Team, agreed on a Strategy Document as first steps towards seeking support for the establishment of a National Institute of Arts Education: Amakhosi CHIPAWO Dance Trust of Zimbabwe National Art Gallery Zimbabwe Academy of Arts Education Zimbabwe College of Music Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust

CHIPAWO's programmes
As a result of the impossible financial situation CHIPAWO found itself in in June this year, the organisation opted for a Basic Survival Strategy. One of the aspects of this plan was the reduction of CHIPAWO units and consequently programmes. Arts Education for Development and Employment (AEDE), Performances, Media and Youth survived - all of which have the capacity to sustain themselves - and the organisation as a whole.

The AEDE programme
For CHIPAWO the slogan has been 'Back to the Centres!'. This has been quite a refreshing development for after all that is where CHIPAWO started and it has always remained the core activity of CHIPAWO though in recent years somewhat neglected. This where the interface with children takes place. ? Recently the administration and operations of the programme have been allowed to run down or simply collapse as a result of there being no money for the basics.?Long-serving CHIPAWO stalwart, Darlington Saungweme, who had been the AEDE Programme Officer, did not return to the organisation after leading the delegation to the 9th Children's Theatre Festival in Lingen, Germany. Chipo Basopo, a CHIPAWO graduate who was already handling the Performance Programme, stepped into the breach as Acting AEDE Officer.

Challenges facing the programme included the withdrawal of SIDA funding from the Disadvantaged Rural Children the Bursary Scheme and the Challenged centres. These centres were going either to be abandoned to their fate or sustain themselves. Another was the disastrous events of the first two terms of this year when there were inadequate funds to pay the allowances and transport of the Arts Educators or attend to the poor state of the equipment. Then there was the almost impossible communications situation. All CHIPAWO's phones had been disconnected owing to inability to pay the enormous bills inherited from the very active first half of the year. We now have to rely on cellphones. Then fuel disappeared. Communicating with teachers at schools is difficult at the best of times but these were not the best of times. On top of it all, most of our best arts educators were tied up for three weeks at the Reps Theatre for the season of professional youth theatre there at the end of September and beginning of October.

A strength was that despite CHIPAWO's poor showing in the first part of the year, CHIPAWO's reputation and the need for arts education in schools and other institutions made for a record demand for its services. Fourteen new centres expressed interest in CHIPAWO bringing its AEDE programme to them. Administration was tightened as was the collection of fees. A special Team was created of the most experienced or best qualified arts educators and these have been given special training and encouraged by higher allowances.

This year has seen a dramatic increase in centres in Bindura - from the original 2 to 5. A centre was opened in Norton. The National Arts Council, assisted by Delta Corporation, also made it possible to award 15 bursaries for one term at Shiriyedenga Primary School. Currently the CHIPAWO AEDE programme boasts of 32 centres. Plans are there to increase these by another ten for the beginning of next year.

Performances
There is still lots of potential in this unit. Very little marketing is being done but still a steady stream of prestigious contracts keeps coming in. Recent clients have included Zimbabwe Sugar Refiners, the Zimbabwe Open University and the Zimbabwe Tourism Agency (ZTA). Following on from the visit to Indonesia of a delegation led by Minister Nhema, including a CHIPAWO performing troupe, a group of Indonesian performers will be coming to Zimbabwe in mid-November. They will be giving 3 performances in Harare and 2 in Bulawayo. CHIPAWO will be sharing the stage with them in Harare. In another development a group of 6 CHIPAWO performers will be accompanying another ZTA delegation to China.

Media
As part of its restructuring for basic survival CHIPAWO hired out the Media Centre to Top Shatta Productions, a recording company that is developing a video and television unit in which CHIPAWO graduate and ex-Media Centre technician, Tafadzwa 'Jake' Chimbetete, is currently employed. The Media Unit moved into what had been the library at the Zimbabwe Academy of Arts Education and since doing so, it has seen a steady income derived from services such as hire of equipment and dubbing. Farai Kuzvidza returned last month after completing his Youth Trainee stint with an attachment at Tatu, where one of the things he trained in was animation.

Plans for 2007 include Onstage, a 13-episode series of CHIPAWO plays, including those that were staged at the annual Reps Theatre season, such as: The Little Man of Murewa (based on a Hans Christian Andersen story), Vicious, Steve Chifunyise's classic depiction of middle-class poverty in Zimbabwe, the stage version of Charles Mungoshi's Waiting for the Rain and the adaptation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, A Journey to Yourself. There will also be the deaf play, Cry Thinking, and the Afro-Indian fusion, Shinda, the Sacred Thread, which went to Delhi last year. There will also be a co-production with Zimbabwe Television's Kidznet featuring children and young people - not to mention the annual Christmas show this year.

Youth Programme
The Season of Professional Youth Theatre at the Reps Theatre, featuring A Journey to Yourself and Waiting for the Rain, was a great success in terms of training and exposure but the new audience that we know is out there that will one day come to plays at the Reps, has not yet heard the call - or if they have heard it, they still don't believe enough to come.

The two opening nights, the first hosted by the Embassy of Norway and the second by Mungoshi's publishers, the Zimbabwe Publishing House, were stimulating occasions and many ideas and possibilities of co-operation emerged. Now the International Images Film Festival for Women is due to begin in a few days and one of the films being presented is based on Ibsen's A Doll's House. 16 youth from the CHIPAWO Youth Programme will be attending a 5-day film workshop on A Doll's House and the extract that CHIPAWO presented at the Main Ibsen Centenary Event at the National Gallery in May this year will be staged at the closing ceremony.

Forthcoming events
2006 - a tough year, which has seen CHIPAWO on the ropes but come back again to fight another day - will end with a revival of the annual CHIPAWO Christmas Stage Show. Open to all children in CHIPAWO, performances will take place on Friday. 15th December, at 6pm and on Saturday, 16th December at 2.30pm. Venue to be announced.

The aim of the annual Christmas Show is not only to provide an entertaining and enjoyable Christmas experience for its audience but to do so by presenting the Christmas material with a difference - a Zimbabwean difference. Christmas and its stories are presented in an African and Zimbabwean idiom. For CHIPAWO this is a very important responsibility - to ensure that Zimbabwean children do not accustom themselves to always looking up to foreign models and idioms but instead relate to international and national events like Christmas in their own languages and in the context of their own lives.

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