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Theatre-makers and arts organisations say Covid-19 relief money not enough

In September 2020, South African technical production and live events industry roleplayers blocked the N3 freeway in Durban and staged a protest against the ban on all events. They called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to open the entertainment industry to 70% capacity. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

In September 2020, South African technical production and live events industry roleplayers blocked the N3 freeway in Durban and staged a protest against the ban on all events. They called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to open the entertainment industry to 70% capacity. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 22, 2021

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Durban - Members of the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) are hoping that the estimated R13 million disbursed by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture reaches the poorest in the sector.

The money will be distributed by the end of March 2021.

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The department said the Covid-19 relief funding for the industry was to alleviate pressure on those hard hit by the ongoing lockdown.

Nearly 5 000 practitioners were recommended for the first phase and over R80 million was paid out to the sector.

In the second phase and as of December 14 2020, over R2 million was paid out to practitioners in the sector.

The department said 3 658 practitioners benefited from the Solidarity Fund, with a total of nearly R9 million that was paid out.

In September 2020, South African technical production and live events industry roleplayers blocked the N3 freeway in Durban and staged a protest against the ban on all events. They called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to open the entertainment industry to 70% capacity. More than 30 were arrested by police on illegal gathering and contraventions to the National Road Traffic Act.

Thokozani Zulu also known as T’Zozo a Durban based TZZ productions and member of CCIFSA said he was lucky to receive R20 000.

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He said CCIFSA held a Zoom meeting with the DAC two weeks ago. Zulu said the artists and production teams that came from rural parts of the province of KwaZulu-Natal were at a disadvantage because of remote locations.

He was speaking of musicians, artists, sound engineers, dancers, deejays, actors, theatre practitioners, photographers, lighting staff and stage-hands who had been unable to work.

“Some of these artists are not on the database. They could not get access to these funds. Make it easy on us with the application process. Have a broader database that reaches out not only to artists. Local districts in these rural areas should pool their resources so that they receive a dividend that can be shared among them,” Zulu said.

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This week, a group of theatre-makers, arts organisations and practitioners stated that festivals - important producers of new work and key platforms for theatre-makers to generate income - had been cancelled.

“Those that have gone online have not been able to secure anywhere near the remuneration for artists that live festivals have done in the past. The loss of income for many theatre-makers has had, and is having a devastating impact on their mental, emotional and physical health. Most are independent contractors dependent on freelance work, unlike those employed in subsidized theatres who receive income and social benefits whether they stage productions or not. The relief funding made available while welcomed – came with bureaucratic hoops that excluded many and was simply a drop in the ocean in terms of the needs within the sector,” a statement read.

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the department is fully cognisant of the fact that there are many others who did not benefit from these programmes, given the department’s finite budget.

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"We will continue to engage national organisations, in line with our open door policy. The department is also developing the rollout of an implementation plan to provide an Artist Wellness Programme to the sector,” Mthethwa said.

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Related Topics:

LockdownCovid-19

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