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The Government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts facilitates and promotes the development of Art in the country in line with the Eighth National Development Plan (8th NDP) whose theme is ‘socio-economic transformation for improved livelihoods.’ The 8th NDP puts Zambia on the path to accelerated economic recovery and assures prosperity through job creation and social services for the Zambian people and the arts sector is poised to contribute towards this aspiration. In this regard, the National Arts Festival (NAF) is held.

Commemoration of the National Arts Festival was first held in 2022 under the theme ‘We Are One.’ The Festival is a national celebration of Zambia’s rich artistic talent whose aim is to showcase the best of Zambian arts as expressed and experienced by the country. The festival embraces the Zambian long-standing belief in the unity of purpose, unity as a nation, and unity in diversity. The festival comprises various Zambian Artists’ performances in music, comedy, theatre, film, dance, visual arts, crafts, fashion and digital arts.

Art has been recognised as a lifeblood of the country, the glue that binds the country of diversity, into one, united to celebrate and enjoy the talents of its people. The festival is staged on the principles of national identity, creativity, patriotism, and excellence. It is, therefore, a celebration that draws the past, present and future of Zambia’s artistic resources as espoused by the creativities of the present day coupled with impact, entertainment and the business of the arts.

The 2023 National Arts Festival will be commemorated with the involvement of other countries especially around the region, who will also showcase their various art forms expressed and experienced in their respective countries.

This year’s theme is “Accelerating Economic Development Through Investment in the Creative Sector.” The theme was inspired by the president of the Republic of Zambia Mr. Hakainde Hichilema who is also Zambia’s Chief Marketing Officer. During this festival, Zambian artists will be show casing their art works to local and international delegates.

The event is open to all institutions including Government, National Arts Associations, Creative enterprises, arts businesses, Cooperating Partners, UN Agencies, Civil Society Organisations, Academia, Parliamentarians, Media and the general public, as well as those at the frontline of arts service delivery. This concept note therefore guides the activities that will be undertaken during the festival which is scheduled for 22nd to 30th September, 2023.

National Arts Festival Objectives

The objectives of NAF are as follows:

1. Celebrate and experience the best of Zambian arts
2. Increase the visibility and profile of the arts in Zambia for trade and investment
3. Create jobs and attract investments for artists and local businesses
4. Promote international cooperation, through market linkages and leverage the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) strategy of the African Union.

Target Numbers

The festival is targeting over 5,000 people including performers, exhibitors, staff and audiences. These will be broken down as follows; 2,000 performers, 400 exhibitors, 100 staff, and close to 3,000 general audience comprising walk-ins, schools and arts groups. The strategy will be executed through the National Arts Associations under the National Arts Council who will engage professional artists and arts groups as well as colleges and schools. Slots will also be established for corporate creative teams among others. These numbers do not include those who will follow the event online and on television.

Venues, Dates and Guest of Honour

The NAF2023 will run from 22nd to 30th September 2023. The Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts will launch the festival on various Social Media Platforms on 22nd September. The main venue of the event will be Piazza, East Park Mall. This is because East Park Mall is strategic in ensuring that international participants get an opportunity of buying Zambian-made products from the exhibitions as well as the shops in the mall. Other activities will be held at Nu Metro Cinema, East Park Mall and Music Club.

To indicate the strategic importance of the festival, the Ministry has extended a special invitation to His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia to be the Guest of Honour during the grand finale on the 30th September, 2023. It is also proposed that the Grand finale start with a carnival procession, from the places yet to be identified and designated. The carnival is expected to be flagged off by the Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts Hon. Elvis Nkandu.

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