Imagine a scenario in which 15 dance and 15 theatre companies, each employing an average of 12 people, are granted an annual subsidy of R3 million. Imagine that each of the country's nine provinces had at least one such dance and theatre company, which created and distributed their work to local audiences, schools, rural and urban communities. Imagine being a dancer or a theatremaker in those companies, getting up in the morning, being able to go to work as a creative, secure in the knowledge of employment and social benefits, such as medical aid and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)
Those 360 people would cost the public purse R90 million but would produce so much more theatre and dance and make these accessible to many more people compared to the R330 million currently allocated to the State Theatre and Market Theatre in Gauteng, to KwaZulu-Natal's Playhouse Company, to the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State, and to the Artscape in the Western Cape.
The minister responsible for arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, tweeted in late January that "theatre was alive and well" and referenced the five theatres above, sponsored by his department. All of these, other than the Market Theatre, were inherited from the apartheid era, and Mthethwa's department has continued, not only to perpetuate, but exacerbate the inequalities between the country's wealthier provinces on the one hand, and the five less-resourced provinces that do not benefit from a national public subsidy.