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Resources For Artists

The Resource Hub and how you can benefit from it

The Resource Hub and how you can benefit from it

The Resource Hub is a response to the growth of the business dimension in the arts in Zambia. For many years art in Zambia was seen as art for the sake of art, art as hobby so to say, but this is changing, and the creative industry is now more often driven by art for business than ever before. The National Arts Council facilitates the development, promotion and nurturing of all art forms countrywide and has realised that many artists struggle to understand the world of business.

The Resource Hub is a first point of entry into the business world where artists can access information about creative business and connect to services that support the establishment of a business and help it grow it into a profitable venture.

The Resource Hub comprises three sections and each of them have been crafted to heed the call of our creatives in Zambia: help us to go into business, link us to experts and support our marketing efforts.

Resources for artists

We have collected a few documents that help you to understand the business world, some provide you with advice on how to go about things, others are more inspirational. As the Resource Hub grows, we will enrich the library with more files, add audio and video files so you can easily access our knowledge base and enjoy learning about things in business you didn’t know.

Services for artists

The library contains general information and unfortunately, we cannot cover all aspects of the creative enterprise. There is so much information and detail needed that it is often better to have a person-to-person chat with an expert. We have put together several contacts where you can get help for your business. There are the government agencies that offer very good services to the public. ZRA for example has opened two client service centres, one at Eastpark Mall and one at Makeni, where you don’t find long queues and ZRA officers have time to talk to you. Much of the needed information is also available on the websites and we decided to link you to their respective websites where you get information first-hand and always up to date. We also provide you with links and contact details of experts that have specialised knowledge and have worked with the creative industry before.

Artist Profiles

Many creative businesses struggle with their marketing efforts and NAC recognises that it must engage much more in the promotion of creative enterprises, be it individual artists, groups or agents. We invite you to join the community of artists who are featured on the Resource Hub and ask you to submit your details; you can see from the other profiles what information we display and require from you. NAC has access to many potential clients because we engage in many events, are connected to government agencies and to those who support the development of a strong private sector creative industry. The artists profiles will be part of our professional and personal networks and we hope that we can stimulate art for business in Zambia. Together with the promotion of artists we encourage everyone to commit to standards of ethical business conduct and we wish to see a growing contract culture among creatives and their clients in Zambia; you can read more on our industry standards in the resource section.


We, the entire NAC team, hope that you enjoy the Resource Hub and that we can help you with your creative business. Please contact or visit us in case you prefer to talk to somebody, we are happy to assist. We would also like to hear from you, please leave a comment on our website and tell us what you like, don’t like or what you would like us to do to improve our services.

Basic Book-keeping

Managing the financials of your business starts with keeping records of all financial transactions that are directly related to your business. To a large extend it is simply a legal requirement, for example if you are registered for Turnover Tax you must pay tax on all your turnover or revenue and ZRA will not accept that you declare an estimate, they want to see proof which means that at the minimum you need to issue receipts in duplicate (the original for the customer and the copy for you).

But apart from keeping records for the sake of compliance, there is another benefit for you: with good records on financial transactions you will understand the performance of your business better and you make better decisions. So, that seems a vital responsibility and we ought to do it right.

What documents support and proof your financial transactions? These are usually receipts which are hand-written and issued in duplicate, or receipts that are printed and sometimes even sent to your E-mail. Let’s separate receipts according to income and expenses.

Documents that show that you sold something or provided a service are in its simplest form hand-written sales receipts which you can buy pre-printed from stationary shops. The receipt must clearly state your company name, your TPIN, the date, the item(s) you sold and the total amount you received.

The same applies for items you purchased for your business and you must demand a proper receipt for each purchase you make. For purchases from more formalised companies you are given an invoice (and maybe a delivery note).

Let’s get one thing clear, if you are registered for Turnover Tax you pay tax on your turnover or revenue and you must be able to proof that to ZRA. However, it is not required to keep proof of business expenses which is different if you pay Income Tax, then you must proof all expenses too because tax is calculated on taxable income which is income minus expenditure. Please note that not all expenses are allowed by ZRA and all expenses must be made for your business only. Private expenses like entertainment are not allowed and using receipts from other companies would be an offence. With more payments made through digital devices, mobile money and online banking one can trace financial transactions easily.

For those who operate as a sole proprietor, a single artist business, it is the easiest to get a sales receipt book and use the copies for monthly tax payments. Make sure you keep the book and receipts for tax payments safely and properly.

Creative businesses that are a bit bigger, must invest in a better system. Whatever tax you are registered for, you want to know if your business is profitable or not and because of that you must record income and expenses. So, you keep a file that records and proves your income and another for all business-related expenses. I glue receipts on an A4 paper, record them in an Excel sheet and file them in a box-file. Depending of the kind of business you are in and what level of detail you want to go you can separate expenses in direct and indirect expenses. Direct expenses can be directly associated with the service or product, i.e. cost of material or cost of purchase. Indirect expenses are those cost that the business incurs for the more general purpose of business and cannot easily be liked to a specific product, i.e. rent for business premise or marketing. More about this under the topic of financial management.

Creative Art As Business And What It Means To Become An Entrepreneur

Creative Art As Business And What It Means To Become An Entrepreneur

Typically, artists live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes toward art projects and by doing so they promote the myth of the starving artist. This must not be the case; creative art can be as much a business as selling second-hand cars. I truly believe that artists can be successful entrepreneurs – isn’t it that people who are passionate about something are usually good at it?

Before you decide to turn your creative talent into a commercial business you should understand what it means to be an entrepreneur. Doing art, not for leisure but for profit, means that you are responsible toward the stakeholders of your business. Stakeholders are all people that have an interest in or are affected by your business. Your employees want to be paid regularly and you must pay their NAPSA contributions, you must pay taxes and your customers expect good quality and fair pricing. Even your family are stakeholders and you must balance work and life so that you don’t become a stranger in your own home.

All eyes are on you as the owner of the business, entrepreneurs need to drive the business and that means you must price your art, promote it and ensure that you are profitable in what you are doing.

Entrepreneurs are full of ideas, often not well organised in their daily chores and they have a vision which they are often struggling to communicate with clarity. Despite or because of these traits they innovate and drive the economy, unlike employees who usually follow procedure and work in a formal environment which entrepreneurs perceive as rather stifling.

When I started my business, nobody told me that I must spend so much time on things I didn’t want to do – it is true, the administrative part of a business cannot be neglected. Mind you that a creative entrepreneur must keep records, manage cashflow and look for opportunities to make money and this is different from being a hobby-artist.

Business and art are not always best friends. Artwork often develops over a long time; it sometimes starts without us knowing what the result will be. Business is much more focussed and always geared to produce a sellable result and that means that markets are built around demand and supply. Art is about creativity and the more we can push the business side out of this space the more successful we are, the ideal is that creativity sells itself and this is an approach that business hardly accepts. Creative art as business is not business as usual and you must find your way, probably more than the average passionate entrepreneur, to balance creativity and business.

Responsible Business Leadership

Responsible Business Leadership

Now that you have decided to establish your creative business, we need to talk about how you conduct business. There are aspects of managing resources – financial, human and material, but there is also the ethical part of a business. I like to refer to these aspects as Responsible Business Leadership: leadership because we ought to lead by being a good example, responsible because we have stakeholders who we must respect and business because we are on the market for profit and business growth.

I define Responsible Business Leadership as business conduct that respects all stakeholders and their concerns without sacrificing the very existence of the business which should be concerned with a. being profitable, b. staying liquid and c. growing the net worth of the company. Responsible Business Leadership is best nurtured in a working culture that is real, authentic, and honest.

In its essence, Responsible Business Leadership goes beyond Corporate Governance and is a commitment to ensure that the business prospers, grows and has no negative impact on any of its stakeholders. The business leaders (shareholders, directors and management) install and ensure

  • clear reporting practice;
  • clarity about how decisions are made and how risk is controlled;
  • clearly defined roles, responsibilities, authority and how authority is limited;
  • a high quality of information on business strategy and business performance; and
  • respect for all stakeholders of the company.

Corporate Governance is often seen as a system by which companies are directed and controlled and Responsible Business Leadership principles enhance this perspective with the dimension of responsibility towards stakeholders and the environment. Sometimes it is referred to as double or triple bottom line reporting and provides a broader definition geared towards a long-term sustainable development of the firm.

Stakeholders in any business are people who are affected by our business. If you employ workers they ought to be paid because you have agreed to pay them in exchange for their labour, they are the bread winners of their families and need that money. Their families should not suffer because you can’t manage your cashflow and business priorities. They are also looking for job security, professional and personal development, so take some time and speak to them about such matters. Your Government provides security and infrastructure and that is funded by taxes from all citizens and as responsible businessperson you must comply with all laws and regulations. Your customers deserve good quality work and a fair price, whether you sell them a painting or perform a dance, for a creative entrepreneur these are customers. Probably this is a significant change you have to accept when you turn your creative passion into business, the spectators or admirers of your art become customers and you can’t ignore it if they are not happy with what you sold to them.

Once you change from art for the art sake to art for business you should also become a responsible business leader, it is worth it.