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Art and Artists in Tanzania

Tanzania is known world-wide for unique arts especially the Tingatinga paintings and Makonde wood carvings. Art works define social relations between people and are used for various cultural activities. Masks for example are used during initiation ceremonies for youth in some ethnic groups in Tanzania.


They are also used as visual teaching aids to some societies as they portray the relationship between ancestors and the present generation. Clay figurines are used among some ethnic groups as visual teaching aids for teenagers when they undergo traditional initiation ceremonies. The figurines carry different meanings including reminding girls and boys of their responsibilities as grown-ups and future mothers and fathers.

The National Museums of Tanzania has been for many years privileged to host a number of Art exhibitions yearly. Through such temporary exhibitions. Tanzanians and foreigners are exposed to the diverse talents of Tanzanian artists. Also such exhibitions afford a unique opportunity for Tanzanian artists to meet and exchange ideas. Such opportunities are however not enough for artists. They need support and encouragement.

Whereas artists currently invest a lot of their time and energy in their daily activities, very little returns are realised. They face a lot of problems including low income, lack of working space, lack of materials, lack of information on potential markets and lack of exhibition facilities. They therefore need on one hand support in terms of securing markets and on the other, places to exhibit their art works where the art speaks for itself. For them, such places open opportunities for their development.

Formulation of Art Associations would perhaps solve some of the problems they are facing. Through such associations, artists would create employment opportunities for talented youngsters and provide a forum for artists to meet, exchange ideas and experiences and discuss the common problems facing artists in Tanzania.

Associations would perhaps also provide opportunities for training and market surveys with the view to determining appropriate market strategies. With some support from sponsors. loan schemes would benefit young artists and provide them with working capital.

Associations are also unique forums for organising art exhibitions. collection and preservation of contemporary art for the present and future generations. To achieve this goal a National Art Gallery that will house and display Tanzanian art is required.

The National Museums have for years been eager to establish a National Art Gallery. However, financial and technical resources have always been the limiting factors. The National Art Gallery would provide a unique place for preserving Tanzanian contemporary art works before they are lost for posterity.

Art work from famous Tanzanian artists would be stored, documented and displayed in the National Art Gallery. A big challenge to all stakeholders in the fields of Arts is to come up with ideas and suggestions with the view to establishing a National Art Gallery in Tanzania.

Last Updated on Tuesday 24th November 2009

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