We are being buried, say angry marchers

2016-03-23 06:00
ARTISTS marched to the legislature with a coffin, a plastic tombstone and placards.  Photo: Boipelo Mere

ARTISTS marched to the legislature with a coffin, a plastic tombstone and placards. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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THEY walked through the streets of Galeshewe in black clothes on Thursday (17/03), carrying a coffin and a plastic tombstone, along with placards, leaving motorists and the people of Galeshewe mesmerised.

This was all an act symbolising the “death” of artists in the Northern Cape that the marching artists claim are “being buried” by the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council (NCACC).

The march follows the sit-in that arts practitioners staged at the NCACC offices earlier this month on 7 March to register their displeasure at the slow pace exercised by the chairperson, Thebe Manne Thebe, in responding to a letter of demand for the removal of the acting CEO, Phillip Speek.

According to Thaboentle Motlhabi, who spoke on behalf of the artists during the march, the Northern Cape is the only province that continues to lack representation during national competitions and national auditions.

According to the artists, this is not due to a lack of talent, but due to the lack of attention paid to local arts and culture and a lack of funds to nurture local talent.

They complain of national artists who get paid large amounts to come and perform in the province during events like the annual Writers Festivals, while local artists are “paid peanuts” for their performances.

They further accuse the department of not doing the vast Northern Cape province any justice by only appointing representatives from each region and calling them “the provincial delegation”.

“We asked for an audience with the council to say what our predicament is and how we want this sector to serve this province, but they did not respond to us, because we are not important,” said Motlhabi.

The artists claim they have approached the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture on numerous occasions to address their grievances, but they never get a response.

“The budget allocation to empower local artists is too small to reach all the corners of this vast province X for instance areas like Springbok and De Aar, where there are a lot of talent.

“This is our last resort. We would have chosen to burn down the Mayibuye Centre, because it does not help us. If you are not willing to respond to us, we will not be afraid to face guns or bullets and teargas.”

The secretary of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, Patric Moopelwa, did not promise much to the marchers, except that he would refer their list of grievances to the politicians to address them in terms of the law.

The artists should expect a response from the legislature after the 5 April recess of the legislature, he said.

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