Cape Town - While many were left without jobs and the ability to earn an income during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Baz-Art organisation made a concerted effort to assist a number of Cape Town tour guides, with Covid-19 compliant work, that enabled them to continue receiving an income through their International Public Art Festival (IPAF).
Baz-Art is a non-profit organisation that specialises in using street art to revitalise inclusive urban spaces, and incorporates the fact that South Africans are seeking safe, outdoor activities during the lockdown, into their annual IPAF this year.
Baz-Art social media coordinator and IPAF host Dennis Molewa said, as a result, they introduced a walk-through event that took small groups through immersive artworks, with tour guides available to provide extra insights.
“We conceptualised street art tours that promoted the work of our local and international artists, and created critical work for our tour guides, many of whom haven’t received any form of income in almost two years. We didn’t financially benefit, but we gained a whole community of local tour guides,” said Molewa.
Cape Town self-employed tour guide Shelley Mileham, and Salt River resident and tour guide Jehaad Masoed, were a few of the tour guides employed through the festival and both received an income for the first time in more than a year because of it.
“For many years, my tours focused on the Garden Route and other Cape Town attractions, I’ve always seen the street art in my neighbourhood and wanted to include it in my tours, so the pandemic and IPAF finally made that happen,” said Masoed.
Mileham said she went from hero to zero, after receiving no income for more than 61 weeks.
“I’ve needed to use up my savings, which are almost depleted. That’s brought a lot more anxiety to my day because the situation is stressful – you don’t know when it’s going to be over. I’ve paid UIF for years, which I haven’t been able to access,” said Mileham.
Cape Tourist Guides Association chairperson Jeremy Howard said that despite the initiative by IPAF, there has not been much other assistance offered to tour guides, leaving them to fend for themselves.
“As we all know, the tourism industry was hit very hard by the pandemic but the guiding sector, the face of the tourism industry, seems to have been forgotten,” said Howard
Howard said that people have spoken a lot about the general recovery of the tourism industry, but there has not been much focus on the individuals behind the industry, which resulted in a lot of them having to pursue other career avenues to put food on the table.