eThekwini scrutinised for diverting money meant for arts centres elsewhere
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Durban - eThekwini Municipality has diverted over R10 million meant for 13
creative art centres in Durban to cover the increase in expenditure on the Parks, Recreation and Culture (PRC) Week events to celebrate Heritage Month held in September.
Last week council approved the amount of R10 750 000 from the parks and recreation grant funding to cover the shortfall created by additional events not budgeted for.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said this was disappointing as the city had contradicted itself as a champion of creative arts and social cohesion.
“There’s no justification to cut funds for institutions that assist young people passionate about arts. This is like an insult to the creative arts fraternity. There are people employed in those centres; people are being skilled in those centres and you cut their funding - that’s not how it should be,” Nkosi said.
Centres affected include the Bat Centre, K-Cap, Durban Music School, Wushwini Arts Centre, Centre for Creative Arts, Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, Wentworth Arts, African Art Centre, Zizezande Youth, KwaZulu-Natal Heritage and Lebu Discovery Production.
The Bat Centre was not aware of the council decision. Director Nise Malange said they were still waiting for their memorandum of understanding (MoU) which precedes the release of funds to the centre.
“This is news to me. We weren’t informed of the council decision and if that’s true, then a lot of people will be negatively affected. We didn’t get the funding last year and we never expected the same to happen this year.
“We’ve seven professional staff members, five interns (earning a stipend), two cleaners and a caretaker. Last year we mentored 12 bands and we’re hoping they’ll be performing so they can make a living. We depend on this funding for the music programme we run,” said Malange.
She said they received R1m a year from the city, even though last year the funds were never
transferred. MoUs are given to the centres annually and funds of R1m transferred to their accounts.
K-Cap founder and artistic director Edmund Mhlongo said the funding was crucial for them as they operated at the centre of the community.
“We’ve discovered a lot of talent in the townships. There are 15 characters in the KwaMashu-filmed drama Uzalo who were discovered at K-Camp. Others are involved in other dramas and the famous Lion King.
“If the funding is cut off, that will be a contradiction to the city’s call for social cohesion and job creation. It’s critical that municipalities recognise creative arts and see it as part of job creation,” Mhlongo said.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said there was no justification to take the money away from NGOs.
“These organisations make sure people have a chance to develop their artistic skills,” she said.
Contacted for clarification on the funding issue, the city said it would always “treasure” the contribution of these NGOs in social cohesion.
“We’re planning to engage the private sector to lend a hand because it’s also benefiting from these artists. Our effort is a clear demonstration that eThekwini wants to see these external stakeholders growing,” spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said.