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President Jacob Zuma met representatives of the entertainment industry in Pretoria on Wednesday to report back on issues raised with the government in November 2009.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane described the meeting at the presidential guesthouse as successful, saying the two camps agreed that several problems in the industry needed to be tackled.
“The president made a commitment in 2009 after meeting the artists to try to address the problems the artists have,” he said.
“The conditions of service, the conditions of work for artists, the support which they are supposed to be getting from government, and their relationship with various parts of the industry was raised, as well as government's contribution to the arts in the country.”
Chabane said a committee was appointed by the president in 2009
and had to present a report on its findings at Wednesday's lengthy meeting.
Other areas of concern included copyright, piracy, airtime on radio and television, social welfare issues and taxation.
Artists present included singers Claire Johnston, Lira, Marah Louw, Chommie and Arthur.
Chabane said the government and the industry were “on the same page”.
“It is a very complex industry; it's an industry that we need to look at from an economic point of view,” he said.
“In the past our focus was on the entertainment part, the fact that it is a big employer and likely to create more jobs, and innovation is something that is in the background.”
He said it was important to change that aspect of the industry.
“There are a number of developments in the entertainment industry and government will look at all the relevant aspects,” he added.
The focus on Wednesday was the report and to get a reaction from the artists and heavyweights in the industry.
Lira said the meeting was positive and the fact that the government was willing to listen gave her hope.
“I'm walking away with a great sense of hope. There is a lot of work to be done,” she said.
“But at least there is engagement. This has to be seen as a long-term thing, but certain things should not take forever.”
She said it was important that Zuma realised that the entertainment industry was a proper industry, even though it was not regulated.
Meanwhile, Louw said it was a successful meeting and a lot of issues had been identified.
“At least we are going somewhere... eventually the artists are going to be recognised properly,” Louw said.
“We will see artists become business entities and not just people waiting for a gig. It was a very productive meeting. We might all be sitting here looking glamorous, but our bank accounts don't look the same.”
She said the entertainment industry needed security for artists.
After the meeting, Zuma stayed to meet and pose for photographs with a few of the artists before leaving. His office said he was not going to speak to the media.
Another meeting would be held in 2013, Chabane said. - Sapa