Since March 1998, the National Gallery in Bulawayo has embarked on an Outreach Programme sponsored by HIVOS, a Dutch organisation. Much assistance is still being sought for the programme to fully succeed. The Outreach Programme is the first for Bulawayo and the first visual arts outreach programme of its scale in the country, we feel challenged and proud.
Through this programme, the National Gallery in Bulawayo will spread the visual arts to the rural areas, and bring exhibitions from those remote areas in Matabeleland North and South, to the gallery. We wish to be accessible, not esoteric. Development in a country where some of the population is illiterate must allow the visual arts to assume a major and vital role. This fact seems obvious but has been overlooked till now. The visual arts provide a language far more immediate, and within it, issues of identity and conflict can be negotiated.
Bulawayo, and the Matabeleland Region, has generally been ignored or made secondary in issues of material and developmental support, though this is seen to be changing. Therefore our gallery realises the urgency for participation and the immense task required in the advancement of this region. We wish to build this gallery into a youthful and welcoming centre for the exchange of perspectives, and the legitimate pursuit of a truly embracing Zimbabwean vision.
On November 14, 1997 the National Gallery in Bulawayo held, for the first time in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition. This exhibition was launched in 1986 to coincide with the summit of the Non-Aligned States. This has become an annual tradition, with the best in the realm of aesthetics from all regions of the country being chosen and displayed, and the outstanding being singularly recognised. The National Gallery in Bulawayo successfully held this large exhibition. This, for us, is the beginning of a period of unstoppable achievement. We are prepared to accept much more demanding challenges, such as our outreach focus.
Among our forthcoming objectives is for the gallery to embrace children, the handicapped, women artists in a much more interactive and committed fashion within the gallery space.
We already involve ourselves in hosting theatre and music productions, and appreciate the combination of visual and performance art.
Our effort then, is to establish local and international profile that will allow our belief in the potential of visual arts to achieve and inter-disciplinary focus, and to aid the role of visual arts in recreating our national image and in assisting cultural development.