Mthethwa allocates R150m to ‘relief programme’ for creative sector

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister: Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena
Sports, Arts and Culture Minister: Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has allocated R150 million to a “relief programme” for creatives and practitioners in the sector.

This came after many of those in the arts and entertainment industry were affected when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Covid-19 coronavirus a national disaster and prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people.

As a result, many gigs and shows were postponed and cancelled.

Mthethwa said he didn’t want to see a situation where people [creatives] were chased from their homes or rented flats, because they couldn’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage.

He made it clear that the allocated funds were only for the first quarter of the new financial year.

“We will be prioritising only practitioners and artists whose shows had been cancelled or postponed and shows funded by the department as well as the legends of the industry,” he told the media.

The department would also avail a platform to artists to perform live streaming activities such as stand-up comedy, poetry sessions and performances.

He said this would be done to keep people entertained and to showcase the work of the creatives and promote local content across all arts genres.

A Covid-19 awareness campaign would also be implemented to educate the nation about the pandemic, good hygiene and social distancing in their respective platforms.

“Through our campaign creatives will be sending out a strong message that carries many voices, from upcoming artists, renowned artists and legends to curate content via their social media platform,” he said, adding that the creatives would be sharing not only messages about Covid-19, but messages that would bring hope to the nation.

Some creatives who did not want to be named told City Press that it was clear from his speech that the people who would benefit from the relief programme were those who had the department’s involvement.

“What about those upcoming artists that the department doesn’t know about?” asked a concerned upcoming DJ.

Some people in the sector felt the minister’s speech was flat and that people in the arts and entertainment sector were on their own.

Filmmaker Mmabatho Montsho hinted on Twitter: “The minister came to tell us that there are no plans to make plans, but no real plans yet, it sounded like minutes from a brainstorm session.”

The National Film and Video Foundation would immediately start making payments to beneficiaries who had submitted work in the past two weeks, Mthethwa said.

Beneficiaries who were yet to submit milestones over the next three months would also be compensated.

The Young Emerging Producers saving will also release R4.5 million for the current fiscal year, which will be used as part of the relief programme.

A cash injection of R500 000 will be paid to the slates commissioned by the institution and extended to anyone in the industry.

Mthethwa also called for broadcasters to enable artists to earn royalties.

The department would be commissioning service providers in the digital space to curate new programmes to make sure artists continued to do their work.

The industry federations and music collecting societies such as Southern African Music Right Organisation, Cultural & Creative Industries Federation of SA, Independent Music Performance Rights Association and the Composers, Authors, and Publishers Association (Capasso) also made commitments to pay their part.

Capasso has committed to release beneficiaries’ royalties next month instead of July and September.

“These are the people who depend on all of us to come to their shows, these are human treasure who makes us feel better. The assistance and solidarity for them will be requested across the board, private sector, collecting societies.”

Mthethwa also mentioned that more than 25 productions had been postponed, and 15 live shows have been cancelled – this is where the creatives make a living in particular with the live shows.

Ntombizodwa Makhoba
City Press
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