Finance the arts; they have a lot to o¬ffer to the economy

Thursday July 08 2021
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Jean de Dieu Tuyisenge, president of Rwanda Music Federation. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


Not much has been done since the legalisation of the federation. What are some of the issue the federation has addressed?

We were planning a launch in 2020, but this didn’t happen. In terms of artists’ welfare, we are exploring an insurance scheme to cover musicians especially in times such as these.

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly a­ffected the music sector.  How have artists coped with the pandemic?

This is a very challenging period since musicians barely make anything. We embarked on a sensitisation campaign since June 6, urging artists urged to register their work with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and update their membership with the Rwandan Society Authors Union (RSAU) to make it easy when it comes to collection and payment of royalties.

Intellectual property (IP) and copyright laws have been in existence since 2009. Why haven’t they been of much benefit to artists?

The laws have since then been revised and revived in 2018 following pleas by artists. However, many people in the society still do not appreciate that artists' work like music has to be paid for; they still think it is free. We are considering a campaign on this besides advocating inclusion of artists' emoluments in the annual budget allocation since the arts sector is capable of generating jobs for more youth.


Talking of musicians, how many members does this federation have and how has it been bringing them on board?

We have about 800 artists but with the ongoing campaign and use of technology to register and raise more awareness, we expect the numbers to rise.

What are some of the challenges encountered by the federation?

Our federation and unions are not as widely known nor their purpose well understood as we would have wished. Considering the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has eaten into the earning of the musicians, we are unable to do much. Also, this kind of work requires more training and guidance which we do not have.

Music is the most consumed art, especially across broadcast media, are you in conversation with these media houses as regards honouring the IP Laws?

Following the recent letter by Rwandan Society Authors Union (RSAU), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and the Rwanda Utilities Regulation Authority (RURA), asking broadcast media to pay for artists’ works, broadcasters are aware, though some had seemed hesitant, but it is a process.

Any comment on how to grow the sector?

We request the Ministry of Youth and Culture and the government to focus on financing the arts sector, which will position it for potential investors, too. The sector has the potential of generating more jobs for the youth.