The 17th annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) kicked off its new year-long programme with a performance by New York jazz band The Huntertones at The Spook House last month.
The well-received show saw local artists Hope Masike and Tariro ne Gitare collaborate with the American visitors. Apart from performances, the group also conducted music workshops and exchange programmes with local artists and music students. Their visit was made possible through a partnership with the US Embassy under the US Music Abroad programme. The gig marked the end of a big tour for The Huntertones who had already visited Ecuador, Bermuda and Togo, whilst also marking the beginning of a new format for HIFA, dubbed the “365 days a year Festival”.
HIFA announced late in 2015 that they would not be running their usual six-day festival this year. Instead, the organisers unveiled a new structure called “HIFA Presents” with five areas of programming to take place throughout the year, maximizing their overall impact in 2016, before a return to the traditional six-day festival format in April 2017.
HIFA founder and artistic director, Manuel Bagorro explained, “HIFA Presents offers immersive weekends of intense arts programming throughout the year, as well as major stand-alone performances. HIFA Events provides first-class professional services for conferences, brand launches as well as corporate, diplomatic and private events. HIFA Play produces major, high entertainment and high production sports events. The HIFA Amigos programme is a bold audience development programme for events throughout the year, as well as for the Zimbabwean arts sector more broadly.”
Bagorro added that the fifth section, HIFA Engage will roll out four major education and community projects running over 18 months and culminating in HIFA 2017. “HIFA’s Travelling Arts Academy is a professional development, skills exchange and field support programme working across the country. Then there is the “Voices of 1,000” programme which takes place in schools, offering a creative learning project leading to a major mass choir ‘happening’ at HIFA 2017.”
The third project is The City Project, a public art programme exploring and transforming the experience of public transport in Harare. “Rounding off the developmental projects under HIFA Engage is HIFA Access, an initiative that convenes meetings, symposia and collaborative brainstorming conversations aimed at strengthening and encouraging the Zimbabwean cultural sector,” said Bagorro.
Next year HIFA will return to its traditional festival format and will showcase the artistic outcomes of its new programmes. HIFA organisers emphasised that this year they would be more active, visible and dynamic throughout the year. “Our new format allows people to enjoy different aspects of the HIFA experience throughout the year” said Maria Wilson, HIFA’s Executive Director.
Image: The HIFA Opera Gala was consistently one of the best attended shows in years past.
Image Credit: Graham van der Ruit