Zimfest News Blog

Festival News

Announcing the Cancellation of Zimfest 2020

Dear Zimfest Community,

After much discussion by the Zimfest Association Board and the Organizing Committee, we have decided to cancel Zimfest 2020. In lieu of holding the festival this year, we will begin to plan for Zimfest 2021, and also explore alternative opportunities for celebrating and supporting Zimbabwean music.

The health and safety of Zimfest teachers, performers and participants have been our paramount concern.

Although there is no way to predict what the status of the COVID-19 pandemic will be in late July, we must consider the possibility that restrictions will still be in place regarding large group activities that would require a last-minute cancellation of the festival.

If this were the only barrier we faced, a final decision could potentially have been postponed until later in the year, but unfortunately we also face a number of challenges in the short term:

  • The availability of Conference Services staff at The Evergreen State College, our Zimfest 2020 host, is very limited during this time, as all campus services are on deferred operations through at least April 24 due to COVID-19. As a result, we have not yet received the letters of invitation we requested for our Zimbabwean guests—these are necessary documents supporting their B-1 visa applications. We also require data on room allotment by early April in order to set up our registration system. As long as the deferred operations are in place, we can expect further delays in other essential information on facilities, concert, and workshop venues, adversely affecting our ability to open registration.  There is currently no estimate for when Evergreen Conference Services will resume normal operations.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Harare, where Zimbabwean visa applicants must appear for mandatory in-person interviews, has cancelled routine non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 19, 2020.  It is unknown when this restriction will be lifted.
  • Due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, South African Airlines has cancelled international flights for the indefinite future. This carrier provides flights from Harare to Johannesburg SA that are often the first leg of the journey from Zimbabwe to the US. Many flights onward from Joburg are also being cancelled and their future availability cannot be predicted.
  • The United States has barred entry of citizens from many regions of the world, including Asia, Europe, Canada and Mexico. There is no indication when such bans may be lifted.
  • Another consideration is the severe economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Members of the Zimfest community will be affected financially by working reduced hours or losing their jobs, while others are beset by new challenges such as converting from in-person to remote working or teaching. These difficulties could suppress Zimfest attendance, even if COVID-19 transmission were no longer an issue at the end of July.

In short, because of conditions outside of our control, we are unable to put on a successful Zimbabwean Music Festival this year. We believe that announcing the cancellation now, rather than waiting, will reduce financial losses by Zimbabwean artists who need to pay for visa applications, airfare, etc.

In times of stress and uncertainty, gathering together in community to celebrate Zimbabwean music and each other could be an especially healing and uplifting experience. Members of the Board and Organizing Committee mourn along with you the loss of our event and the incredible line-up of teachers and performers who planned to attend this year. We are especially sad about the lost opportunity for Zimbabwean artists to come to the festival, teach and perform, make new connections, and earn income for their families. 

We wish you and yours good health during these unsettled times, and extend our sympathy to anyone who has lost family members or friends to the virus. To the healthcare personnel in our community, we deeply thank you for helping save the lives of others, despite the risks. Traditional music has provided strength and healing during many troubled times; may you continue to gain comfort from the music we love, even as we ride out this unprecedented worldwide calamity.

Sincerely,

Zimfest Association Board
2020 Zimfest Organizing Committee

Zimfest: Music Dancing Across Borders

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Zimfest 2020 Novel Coronavirus Update

Dear Zimfest Community,

The Zimfest Board is monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact on Zimfest 2020.

At this time, we plan to hold Zimfest 2020 from July 31st – August 2nd on the campus of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Registration is targeted to open on May 1.

Please be aware that this decision may change based on guidance from health agencies, travel restrictions, or if we feel that the risk posed to the Zimfest community is unacceptably high.  The board regularly reviews updates and guidance from local, state, and national public health agencies to inform our decisions.  We are also working closely with our host, The Evergreen State College, as we navigate these uncertain times.

The Board will provide regular updates about the situation and its impact on Zimfest 2020. We are all looking forward to the Festival  but your safety and health are our first concern. Please check the Zimfest blog regularly for updates. If you have questions or concerns about the impact of novel coronavirus on the festival, please write to our Board contact person, janis{at}zimfest{dot}org. Questions about the festival should be directed to oc{at}zimfest{dot}org. 

Sincerely,

Zimfest Association Board and Zimfest 2020 Organizing Committee

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Applications and Updates

Dear Zimfest community,

A few updates from our hard-working Zimfest organizers:

  • The Organizing Committee is eagerly awaiting applications from performers and teachers before the Feb 29 deadline! We need workshops in all categories to allow for a complete menu of offerings beyond marimba and mbira at Zimfest 2020: dance, singing, drumming, hosho, guitar and other instruments, as well as cultural presentations on various topics.
  • See this page for details on workshops. Marimba teachers, please keep in mind that we can accept a few workshops of 2.5 hours as requested by intermediate and advanced students.  Teachers of dance and hosho are advised that workshops of 1.5 hours work well for many students.
  • The Zimfest Association Board of Directors welcomes new board member Drew Turner! Drew was introduced to Zimbabwean-style marimba in Homer, AK and now lives near Ashland, OR. He has also joined the OC as an intern with the Volunteer Coordinators – great to have you, Drew!
  • The ZA Board wishes to call your attention to changes in membership categories and fees. Recognizing that many older members of our community are on fixed incomes, the Board has added a new category of membership for seniors 65 years and older, at just $10 a year (more if you can afford it).  In addition, the Teacher membership fee, covering a teacher or youth leader plus up to 20 members of their student group, has increased to $100 per year. See the membership page for details and to sign up. 

Stay well – musare zvakanaka!

Zimfest Organizing Committee
Zimfest Association Board
Festival Coordinator Claire Jones

Zimfest: Music Dancing Across Borders

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Applications Wanted

Hello Zimfest people,

Just a reminder from the Organizing Committee that applications are open until February 29  for teachers and performers for Zimfest 2020! Please don’t wait until the last minute – your application will stand out from the crowd if you apply now!

And a message from the Tech committee: We are seeking a web graphic design volunteer who has knowledge and experience with WordPress. Help us to maintain and improve the Zimfest website!  Write to tech{at}zimfest{dot}org with your contact info and relevant skills.

Hoping to hear from you soon,
Zimfest Organizing Committee
Zimfest Tech Committee
Festival Coordinator Claire Jones

Zimfest: Music Dancing Across Borders

 

 

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Performer and Teacher Applications Open Jan 2

Happy New Year Zimfesters!

Performer, Teacher and Workshop Applications for Zimfest 2020 in Olympia, WA are now open and will close February 29.

Click here for performer information and here for the performer application.
Click here for teacher information and here for the teacher application. Once you have submitted a teacher application, you will be sent a link to propose one or more workshops.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The Sunday evening concert will again be free (donations requested) so that Zimbabweans and others holding visitor visas can perform on the evening stage.
  • Individuals who are accepted as teachers will be asked to complete a background check if they did not teach at Zimfest last year.
  • Workshop proposals we love to see: theoretical topics (e.g. African rhythms, song structure and improvisation) in addition to teaching songs; cultural presentations of all sorts.
  • Workshop times: participant feedback indicates hosho and dance workshops of 90 minutes work well. Many intermediate marimba students have requested longer workshops, and we can schedule a few for 2  1/2 hours. See detailed Workshop Proposal information here (scroll down the page).
  • The Zimfest Organizing Committee is still looking for artwork designs to be used for Zimfest 2020 publicity, tee shirts and more. See the call for submissions in a previous blog post and/or write to the OC at oc{at}zimfest{dot}org.

Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator
Zimfest 2020: Music Dancing Across Borders

 

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Call for Zimfest Art and More

Hello Zimfesters,

We have some requests for help from the Zimfest Association Board of Directors and the 2020 Organizing Committee (OC):

  • The OC is calling for submissions of designs to be used for Zimfest 2020 publicity, tee shirts and more.  As mentioned on the new 2020 overview page, the festival theme remains Music Dancing Across Borders. Your artwork could reference this theme, or anything else creatively suggestive of the Zimbabwean Music Festival. Send your submissions to oc{at}zimfest{dot} org.  Creator of the best usable idea sent to us by January 15, 2020 receives $100 and our appreciation!
  • The ZA is searching for new members for the Board of Directors! The best way to help us get the news out to you, the Zimfest community, is to help us increase our numbers to do the work of the Board! See the Board Recruitment page for info and write us a letter today!
  • Don’t forget now is a great time to renew your membership, become a ZA member for 2020 or just donate to the cause! The Holiday Fundraiser page tells you how and why.
  • A reminder from the OC that performer and teacher applications will open January 2, 2020. If there are any offerings you’d like to see in the way of workshops, drop us a line at teachers{at}zimfest{dot}org. 

Enjoy the solstice!

Alex Weeks, ZA Board President
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator

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Zimfest 2020

Dear Zimfest community,

Thank you to all who filled out the post-Zimfest survey or have otherwise communicated to the ZA Board and organizers about their feelings and desires for Zimfest in 2020.

Based on support from the community, the Board has decided to go ahead with plans to produce Zimfest 2020 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA!  I have been in touch with Conference Services at Evergreen and they are enthusiastic about hosting Zimfest from July 30-August 2, 2020. We are in the process of ironing out some details and look forward to signing a Booking Agreement. So, not 100% confirmed yet, but I would advise you to save these dates! 

We are happy to say that a number of people stepped up at this year’s festival to volunteer to help organize the next Zimfest. As always, however (you know the drill), we welcome your volunteering help! Let us know if you are interested in helping to organize, or would be available for special assignments – e.g., proof-reading, publicity or technical tasks – for brief periods of time during the course of the year. You can write to me at claire{at}zimfest{dot}org or the Board at board{at}zimfest{dot}org.

 – Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

 

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Post-Festival Blues

Greetings Zimfest community,

Zimfest 2019 has come and gone and I, for one, have now caught up on my sleep after four days of incredible music and gathering with new and old friends!

Why are we blue? We want to hear from you! The Post-Festival Survey is open on the website and we’d love to hear your feedback: what did you like and what didn’t you like about Zimfest 2019 at Western Oregon University. If you didn’t make it to the festival this year, there is a question for you too – we’d like to hear why you didn’t come! 

The Zimfest Association Board of Directors will be meeting soon to make a final decision on Zimfest 2020. We need your input.

If you would like to offer to help organize the next festival, please email board{at}zimfest{dot}org or contact Claire directly at claire{at}zimfest{dot}org. 

Thank you, Tatenda, Siyabonga!

Claire and the 2019 Organizers 

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Two Days Until Z-Day!

Hello Zimfest Friends,

The festival is upon us and we will see each other very soon! It is hot here in Seattle and the weather forecast for Monmouth is continued temperatures in the 80s with possible showers on Saturday. Be prepared for anything!

  • Remember that the WOU dorms are not air-conditioned – bring a fan for nighttime sleeping. Also bring your own soap, as the linen packs do not include soap.
  • As we mentioned in a previous blog post, all WOU dorm rooms now have mini-fridges and microwaves, so you can refrigerate drinks to stay hydrated! The requirement to purchase at least two meals per night remains in place however.
  • WOU Dining has informed us that Grab & Go bottled drinks and packaged snacks in the retail section of Valsetz will be available on a cash basis between lunch and dinner times according to the schedule shown on the On-Campus Dining webpage.  (This schedule does not appear in our Festival Guide however.)
  • Introduce yourself to Anesu Ndoro, volunteering at Zimfest as the Registration Co-Lead. Anesu, an anthropology student at Reed College, would like to do brief interviews with North Americans, asking how they got interested and involved in playing  and listening to Zimbabwean music. What does the music mean to you?
  • A couple of our Zimbabwean guests are looking for transportation back to Portland Airport on Sunday before the festival is over. If you might be able to offer a ride, please check the Ride Board on the website, or look for a physical Ride Board in the Registration Area at Zimfest.

See you in Monmouth!
Claire and the OC

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Ride Board and Registration Clarification

Howdy,

Want to get to know a Zimbabwean teacher or performer better? Give them a ride to or from Zimfest!

* We have Zimbabwean teachers and performers coming from all directions this year. Some will arrive directly from Zimbabwe and some are visiting communities elsewhere in the US before the festival. Some are experienced US travelers and some are first-time visitors. Given the variety of schedules and arrival points, it’s quite a logistical challenge to get all our Zim guests to Monmouth for the festival and to get them off to their next destination after the festival. As with so many aspects of Zimfest, we depend on festival goers to help by giving rides to teachers and performers on their way to and from Monmouth. The Ride Board on the website is the place to make connections between drivers and riders. You can post an offer or request a ride yourself, by entering some basic info on time and place plus a contact email or phone number.
 – Mark Keller, Zimbabwean Guest Coordinator

* Also, a clari-fication from the Festival Coordinator: Housing and dining registrations are now closed, and the last day to register for workshops and sign up for volunteer shifts is July 31. These systems will close at midnight that day and no registration can take place until August 8 onsite.
 – Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Deadlines and Drums

Hello Zimfest community,

The festival is only 20 days away! Important information for you:

  • Saturday July 20th is the last date to register for housing and dining as we need to send the data to our WOU host. There is not likely to be any housing available for walk-ins onsite, so register now!
  • Registrations for workshops and volunteer signups will close August 1st at midnight. No changes can be made until Aug 8 at onsite registration.
  • As always, we are in need of hand drums – Zimbabwean style ngoma, congas or similar ones – for our drumming classes. Please let us know whether you can lend one or more by writing teachers{at}zimfest{dot}org or just bring them to the Registration desk Thursday Aug. 8 at the festival. We promise to take good care of them for the weekend!

Zimfest 2019 OC

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Interview with Zimfest Teacher Gilbert Zvamaida

Hello Zimfesters,

A quick news flash to alert you to a new Zimfest initiative!
We asked a Zimfest volunteer (Anesu Ndoro) to interview one of our new teachers, Gilbert Zvamaida, to learn more about his musical background and what he has to offer at Zimfest 2019. Mr. Zvamaida plays a mean guitar and is an expert in different Zimbabwean guitar styles. Listen to what he has to say on this interview excerpt.

Learn more about Gilbert Zvamaida and the workshops he will be teaching on the Workshop Teachers page. Better yet, sign up to learn to play mbira-guitar style or hear him talk about and demonstrate guitar styles in Zimbabwe!

While you’re on Youtube, search for and subscribe to our new Zimfest USA channel to hear the entire English-language interview with Gilbert Zvamaida and Anesu Ndoro and be alerted to upcoming Zimfest clips.

See you at the festival,
Claire and the OC (with Techie help!)

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