Durban - LOCAL artists are bitter about being deprived of an opportunity to work and provide for their families during the Covid-19 pandemic, claiming that other sectors are getting away with violating the social distancing regulations by operating at full capacity.
Earlier this month, Premier Sihle Zikalala announced that hosting events would not be allowed as Covid-19 infections were on the rise in the province.
Zikalala said the decision was based on the advice of medical and scientific experts when the province was edging closer to a second wave, allowing only small activities.
He said at the time that while the government understood the economic impact of not hosting major events, which injected millions of rand into the province, protecting citizens’ lives was more important.
The artists’ spokesperson, Thokozani Tzozo Zulu, who has been in the entertainment industry for years, claimed that taxis, flights and political rallies and protests were packed to capacity with people not wearing masks or observing social distancing, but all major events for the arts had been cancelled.
"It’s not only artists who are affected by the cancellation of events, there are many others involved including suppliers of sound systems, cleaners, security and many more. Many people will not be able to enjoy something as simple as a Christmas meal this festive season, and at worst many will not be able to buy school uniforms, pay school fees and stationery at the beginning of next year," said Zulu.
He added that with only a few days before Christmas, the mood in the entertainment sector was not the usual happy one.
"The last time artists worked was in December last year. It has been exactly a year since they earned a salary. This is not going to be a merry Christmas for us as artists. We fail to understand the reason behind the banning of events if the regulations are not enforced in other sectors," said Zulu.
He said artists used the busiest time of the year to make money to last them during the low seasons.
“However, this year they have not worked for the better part of 2020, leaving them sinking deeper into debt. Some had their homes and vehicles repossessed by the bank due to non-payments.
"The 2020 festive season is like no other. Major events that provide job opportunities for artist and which attract visitors from outside the province such as the Last Dance, Fact Durban Rocks, Umgababa Beach Festival and the New Year’s Picnic will not be held this year because of Covid-19 and the rise in the number of infections," he said.
In September, 32 Durban artists were arrested during a protest that blockaded the N3 freeway near The Pavilion shopping centre.
They demanded the government allow at least 60% capacity at events.
They appeared in court and were released on R1 000 bail.
Zulu said the protest had been effective to a certain extent because afterwards, entertainment venues such as Shisanyamas were allowed to operate with restrictions on the number of people who could attend.
"Artists and everyone involved in the events sector should brace themselves for an even tougher year ahead," he said.