On 4 May, 2020 Minister Nathi Mthethwa hosted a briefing, updating the public on the actions of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, following the announcement of a R150 million relief fund on 25 March, 2020.
This fund seeks to alleviate financial pressures on sports people and artists impacted negatively by the corona pandemic and the subsequent global lockdowns that have found a third of the world homebound.
By the minister's own admission, the number of applicants that will not be receiving funds is "huge".
"We are concerned that a huge number of [applications] did not succeed. Many of these applications come from historically disadvantaged communities. It's people who desperately need this assistance. At the same time, we as the adjudication panel have to do our due diligence to make sure that we adhere by the criteria which has been agreed upon."
The total number of applications received and adjudicated upon sits at 1050, while the total number of applications received sits at the much higher number of 1500. Of the 1050, only 232 were recommended to receive relief, while a shocking 603 failed to meet the fund's requirements. A further 203 were referred back to the department.
The minister explains, "this is a situation were the adjudicators felt that maybe something can be done. Maybe the department must recheck whether there are any [documents] which need to be looked into so that the applicants can get their funding." 12 digital applications were referred to the NFVF for processing.
Some of the reason for non-compliance include:
- DSAC application document missing, or attached but not filled in.
- No cancellation or proof of contract documents.
- No proof of event scheduled to take place
- Postponement, and not cancellation of events. Only cancelled, and not postponed qualify to benefit from the relief fund.
This roll-out has not been without issue. The minister noted that the number of rejected applications from artists far succeeded those from sporting organisations, which may point to issues of a larger lack of structural and institutional support from government towards this sector.
"Because of the lockdown period, people have not been able to access ICT. If I may compare the process from Sports with the process from Arts and Culture. From Sports, we worked through federations. That facilitation helped. On the side of Arts and Culture, we do not have the kind federations which we have at Sports, but we do have national organisations."
The DSAC will convene a meeting with national organisations in arts sector to see how best to serve artists in this time.
*Compiled by Lindokuhle Nkosi