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President Masisi On The Occasion Of The Andante Chorus 10th Anniversary Celebration Gala Dinner

1. It gives me pleasure to be amongst you, as you have convened here tonight to delight yourselves in the celebration of the achievements, impact, and encouragement brought about by your music and stage performances of it in various contexts. The melodies that Andante is known for are not merely pastime; they are also a serious expression of praises to the Lord your creator, as well as healing and upliftment for those whose spirits may be troubled by one situation or another, therefore, requiring that assurance which is wrapped in your lyrics.

2. In this regard, I am reminded of a memorable quote by William Shakespeare, the English Playwrite and Poet, from his book β€œTwelfth Night”, which goes like this (Open Quote): β€œIf music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it… .” (End of Quote)

3. I believe on this occasion, marking the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Andante Chorus, which has been a constant feature in the choral music of Botswana and a contribution to the creative sector, we all want to stand up and say, what a talent, what a great milestone…play on, give us excess of your songs…play on!!.

4. Congratulations to Andante on your 10 years of existence. This milestone does not only celebrate what has been achieved over the years by the Andante Chorus, but it should also be appreciated as a launch-pad for transforming the arts and culture in Botswana.

5. The creative industries present a great opportunity to contribute immensely towards the diversification and economic growth of Botswana’s economy. Such an opportunity can be leveraged on to further transmit messages, lessons and nuggets of wisdom through songs aimed at developing a united, moral and upright society, whose members are tolerant of one another.

6. The cultural expressive activity of music and dance, as showcased by groups like Andante Chorus, also help us to recognise the dynamism of our society as pronounced through our values, traditions, beliefs and language. In this regard, I am happy to inform you that the Government has prioritised the arts and culture as a vehicle for advancing socio-economic development. Over the years, we have supported this sector and facilitated its growth.

7. Ladies and Gentlemen, from 2008 to date, we have embarked on a number of programmes such as the National Arts Festival, which until July this year were known as the President’s Day Competitions. Through the National Arts Festival programme, over Eighteen Thousand, Two Hundred artists (18,200) participate in sixty seven (67) genres of both the performing and visual arts annually. The Government spends an amount of P5.2 million annually in recognition of their talents.

8. You may recall that, in my July 2022 message to the participants at the latest edition of the National Arts Festival, I highlighted that (Open Quote): β€œArtists have utilised this platform to realise their potential in the creative industries, in the process increasing their market access for their products and services.” (End of Quote). In addition, I pointed out that the artists have had their livelihoods improved by the financial prices awarded to them, while their aristic talents have placed Botswana on the world map as a society with a rich cultural heritage.

9. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am glad to note that Andante was formed in 2012, and joined the then President’s Day Competitions in the same year. I am also pleased that they attained position 1 in their first appearance; a position which they have won several times in the subsequent years. It is the same commitment, through discipline and zeal, that they have exhibited in competing at the regional Old Mutual Competitions which are a collaboration between Botswana and the South African Choral choirs.

10. Let me assure you that the Government continues to improve the environment for the creatives to thrive. In this context, Parliament has passed the National Arts Council of Botswana Act to establish the Botswana National Arts Council of Botswana. This is an umbrella body which serves to develop the creative sector in Botswana in all its facets. The Arts Council will drive the commercialisation of the arts in Botswana through specially tailored programmes and collaboration with Arts and culture associations; and it shall enter into commercial deals with players across different sectors of the economy, especially the private sector.

11. The revised Citizen Enterpreneural Development Agency (CEDA) Guidelines, have allowed opportunities for the creative industry players in Botswana to use their talents as collateral to secure financial resources to invest. I trust that Andante will be among those that take full advantage of the CEDA funding. I have every belief that this commercialisation drive will empower more artists, increase their financial return and create job opportunities for them.

12. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to learn that as part of their strategy for the next decade, the Andante Chorus, in partnership with both Government and the private sector, will create a performance space to become a hub of musical and cultural interactions, drawing tourists from both Botswana and outside. It is such initiatives that will help accelerate cultural tourism, position Botswana as the world’s destination of choice, and consequently facilitate rapid economic diversification.

13. As the Government we constantly seek ways to unearth musical and other artistic talent in Botswana, and market it across global audiences. This is done through various avenues including the supporting of performing artists and ensembles to participate at events across the world, as well as the signing of Memoranda of Understanding with different countries and stakeholders, in order to develop talent within and export talent beyond the borders of Botswana.

14. We participate in Expositions, Fairs, Festivals with a view to creating networks and market Botswana’s diverse cultures and talent. It is through such collaborations that the creative sector can share and gain more experiences. Allow me, therefore, to implore the private sector to invest in choral music and brand their products through such partnerships.

15. I will end where I started by quoting Shakespeare in his book, The Merchant of Venice, wherein he wrote (Open Quote): β€œHow sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank! Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night Become the touches of sweet harmony.” (End of Quote) Indeed, music communicates far more than we can express in words; music touches the inner recesses of our being as we get serenaded with soothing harmonies of carefully woven lyrics, rhythms and beats, all of which get us to wiggle, or shake our bodies, and stamp the ground vigorously as we exude joy and happiness at its rendition.

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