Cape Town artists protested last weekend in solidarity with the artists currently occupying the National Arts Council offices in Johannesburg, demanding answers around the relief and employment funding meant for artists.
Cape Town artists protested last weekend in solidarity with the artists currently occupying the National Arts Council offices in Johannesburg, demanding answers around the relief and employment funding meant for artists.

Artists dissatisfied with Mthethwa’s response to mismanagement of arts funds

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Apr 1, 2021

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Cape Town - The investigation into the mismanagement of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) comes a little too late for some artists, and just two days before protesting artists’ deadline for approved projects to receive its allocated funding.

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa provided an update on the PESP on Monday, as artists have occupied the National Arts Council (NAC) offices since March 3 in Johannesburg.

The NAC administers the PESP of R300 million on behalf of the department for job creation for artists amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mthethwa said the council responsible for oversight at the NAC decided to halt the disbursement of funds following no clear answers given to the council from the NAC.

The decision to suspend NAC chief executive Rosemary Mangope and chief financial officer Clifton Changfoot was taken on March 1.

Mthethwa said mismanagement by the NAC resulted in the overcommitment of available funds, with some applicants allocated nearly double the amount initially requested.

An investigation will be conducted this week.

Arts co-ordinator and cultural curator Faye Kabali-Kagwa said: “I don't think it was a satisfactory response. I think the minister called the R300m that at one point was missing a shortfall. He called it a mismanagement of funds and that is not acceptable. It is not acceptable that two days before all the money is supposed to be paid out now they want to investigate and probe the financial situation when artists have been calling for some accountability since as early as January.”

Kabali-Kagwa said money should have been paid out in January.

Coloured Mentality co-founder Sarah Summers had to stop work on their film-based project at the end of February.

They were awarded R1.6m after initially applying for R385 000. Necessary budget changes were made according to the new amount with around 18 people employed. The amount was then dropped back to R385 000 with no funds received to date.

“We basically paid everyone for their work and then stopped. So we spent all our money and haven't been paid ourselves for any of it.”

Cape Argus

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