by Tafara Mugwara
HARARE, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's biggest talent search competition, the Dreamstar, has shifted to digital platforms in search of young artists who wish to compete at this year's edition of the talent event.
The show, which is now in its seventh session, will for the first time accept submissions from performers online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The talent search showcases young contestants between ages of 12 and 40, performing a variety of acts including singing, dancing, stunts and magic.
Auditions, which are already underway, will close on August 27, with the grand finale scheduled for November.
Dreamstar is organized by the China Africa Economic and Culture Exchange Research Center, the Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation (JCMC) in partnership with the Chinese Embassy and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
This year's top winner will pocket a cash prize of 4,000 U.S. dollars, while the first and second runner up will get 1,500 dollars and 750 dollars respectively.
Aside from the prize money for the top three winners, finalists will also travel to China where they will showcase Zimbabwean talents on some of the biggest platforms in the Asian country.
While the organizers of the show are expecting more contestants this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a sudden and substantial impact on their preparations.
Dreamstar director Zhao Ke (Steve Zhao) said in response to the disturbances caused by the pandemic, they had to find alternative ways of continuing the show.
"Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to change our plans, we also changed our strategies. So we thought we can still do the Dreamstar auditions, but we will do it online," he told Xinhua in an interview Thursday.
Zhao said since its inception in 2014, Dreamstar has aimed at promoting and nurturing young Zimbabwean artists through the provision of platforms to showcase their talent.
"The strategy of Dreamstar is that we find talent in the culture industry in Zimbabwe then we set up a platform for young people, we help them go out.
"We have a lot of young artists now coming out, so we set up a platform for them, to bring them back to the community, to let the community appreciate their talent," he said.
Zhao said the show, which has become very popular among youngsters, fully demonstrates the creativity of Zimbabwean artists, adding that Dreamstar has become the flagship project of China-Zimbabwe cultural exchange.
"We always believe that culture is the soul of the nation. Even during this COVID-19 pandemic, people can see that we need to work together, because we are in one world.
"So we thought it is very important for people to understand each other. Culture is made by people, and without people we can't talk anything about culture. So we think cultural exchange is very important," he said.
Apart form scouting for talent across the country, Dreamstar also provides scholarships for its participants to study in China.
Last year the Chinese government provided full scholarships to six artists who were selected from the previous session of Dreamstar talent search. Enditem