Will South African artists benefit from Covid-19 relief fund?

Nathi Mthethwa (Photo: Gallo)
Nathi Mthethwa (Photo: Gallo)

As South African artists try to measure the effects of the national lockdown on their work and their livelihoods, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture has announced the criterion required for consideration for Covid-19 relief.

Responding to calls from artists on social media, Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced that his department had reallocated R150 million from its budget towards this relief fund.

After deliberations with the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), the Minister announced which artists, athletes and technical staff would be considered for eligibility. 

To qualify, artists are required to prove loss of income through the cancellation of work or an event. Primarily, benefits from the relief-fund will flow to artists and organisations already engaged with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

The statement divided the beneficiaries into four defined groups:

- DSAC-funded projects who have already received the first tranche of payment,

- DSAC institutions whose productions have been cancelled,

- 25 productions and 15 live shows which have already been cancelled,

- Organisations with proposals for online interventions and solutions.

According to the statement:

"For DSAC funded projects [where the] first tranche of payment has been made, where artists, venues and other suppliers of the project have been paid, the beneficiaries will be compensated for the expenditure incurred. The DSAC reserves the right to determine a flat rate fee for all such beneficiaries. The above criteria also applies to Funding and Associated Institutions such as the National Arts Council (NAC), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the National Heritage Council (NHC), Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), etc."

"For DSAC Institutions whose productions and events have been cancelled, the playhouses that have had to cancel productions scheduled from March to June will pay the artists and practitioners who were already booked for these productions."

"For cancelled Non-DSAC Funded Projects, the list of 25 productions and 15 live events already submitted by national industry organisations will be compensated.

"The Department has been receiving, and will continue to accept, spontaneous Project proposals for the use of online solutions (4th Industrial Revolution) until 4 April 2020. These concepts should respond to the effect of Covid-19 on the sport, arts and culture sectors with digital platforms, VOD ideas (Video on Demand), streaming, podcasts, social media, webinars, short animations and documentaries, etc."

Minister Mthethwa added: "The above relief support of the department of sports, arts & culture is guided by schedule 5 of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Therefore, projects and events that are not considered to have an impact at a national level, involving artists and practitioners from various provinces, would have to approach their respective provinces."

The minister also announced on Twitter that the South African Music Performance Rights Association will be distributing royalties four months earlier than anticipated, moving the date up from August 2020 to April 2020. 

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