Government reveals arts funding and rights shake-up

2013-06-01 14:55

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Arts Minister Paul Mashatile is making it his mission to increase locally produced TV content and ensure that local “artists don’t die poor”.

Before the opening of the South African Season in Paris this week, Mashatile dropped several bombshells about his department’s draft White Paper and his two new task teams – into television content and music rights.

“We can’t continue to complain and say artists aren’t getting paid. I want solutions,” Mashatile told City Press, adding that his new White Paper, due to be presented to Cabinet this month, proposes the streamlining of arts funding bodies.

“We are proposing that we have one body dealing with funding. Because at the moment you have the Lotto agency, the National Arts Council (NAC), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF)?.?.?.”

The bulk of arts funding is currently handled by the National Lotteries Board. But the art sector is up in arms over the board failing to process funding requests, leading to the closure of a number of companies.

“Lotto is my biggest nightmare,” said Mashatile. “A lot of resources are locked when they shouldn’t be.” His proposed central funding body will disperse funds to NFVF and NAC, but will, it seems, remove the Lotteries Board from the equation.

Mashatile also intends merging heritage bodies and placing all museums in a centralised council to reduce administration costs.

“If we rearrange and realign our structures, funding may not be a crisis,” he said.

Mashatile also expressed exasperation with the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro).

“At the moment artists are saying their music is being used by broadcasters and they’re getting no rights payments. And the worst thing is that Samro is sitting with lots of money that is not being distributed. There are artists dying poor and I have decided to end that,” he said.

SAMRO's spokesperson Tiyani Maluleke said, "SAMRO has not received any correspondence from the Department of Arts and Culture and as a result we cannot comment on this matter until such a time as we have engaged with the Minister of Arts and Culture."

Mashatile announced in his budget speech two weeks ago that he would appoint a task team to investigate the music industry – especially air time, royalties and piracy.

City Press can reveal the team will be chaired by pop star Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

The deputy chair is Nhlanhla Sibisi of the SA Music Awards. Other high profile members include musicians Sibongile Khumalo, kwaito legends Arthur Mafokate and Eugene Mthethwa, activist Criselda Kananda, former Kaizer Chiefs spokesman Putco Mafani, DJ Zinhle and record label owner TK Nciza.

There are also lawyers, music television producers and government experts on board.

He has also decided to help the SABC.

“I have said to Minister of Communications Dina Pule we must work together. Let’s get the public broadcaster right.”

He has appointed a second task team to investigate increasing local content on TV, to be chaired by former arts and culture DG Themba Wakashe.

The deputy chair is Professor Jyoti Maistry. Big names in this task team include singer Simphiwe Dana, music producer Chicco Twala, social commentator Eric Miyeni, radio personality Linda Sibiya, TV executive Eddie Mbalo and poet and author Mandla Langa.

The team will also investigate the SABC’s restrictive intellectual property policy and the demands of digital migration.

“The teams will also hold public hearings,” said Mashatile. “They need to deliver their preliminary reports by September.”

Ironically, the opening performance in Paris later that night featured the Moving Into Dance Mophatong company. Celebrated in France, they face the very real threat of closure here due to funding having dried up. Mashatile says he’s determined to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Not everyone in Paris was as enthusiastic as Mashatile about his plans, however.

A member of his delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a very real chance that he would not remain as arts minister after the national election next year.

“What will happen to the new policies then, no one knows,” the delegate said.

» This article was updated after first published

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