National Arts Council urged to engage with protesting artists
Johannesburg - The DA has called on the National Arts Council (NAC) to engage with the artists who have been staging a sit-in at the institution’s offices in Johannesburg.
The artists have been protesting over the allocation of R300 million from the presidential employment stimulus programme.
On Friday, the South Gauteng High Court granted the NAC a court interdict against the artists.
The South African Arts and Culture Youth Forum, Sibongile Mngoma, Romeo Tshililo Ramuada and all artists occupying the NAC offices were respondents in the application brought by the NAC.
In his ruling, Judge J Makume said pending the finalisation of the dispute on the presidential employment stimulus programme, the respondents should immediately vacate the NAC offices.
Makume also ordered that the artists should desist from any conduct that threatens and/or intimidates by words or violence to harm any person on NAC property and to vandalise any equipment and assets.
“In the event that the respondents in any way breach the terms of the order, the sheriff of the court is authorised to immediately give effect to the order and the sheriff is authorised to co-opt any relevant body to assist it in the execution of the order, including but not limited to the SAPS, to provide the necessary assistance in the execution of the order,” Makume said.
But, the DA said while it understood the pressure on the council, many of its problems could have been solved had the council decided to be transparent with the artists and engaged with them.
“Instead of forcing the artists from their premises, the NAC should rather seek to solve this crisis of its own making and speed up payments to artists,” Tsepo Mhlongo and Veronica van Dyk said.
Mhlongo and Van Dyk said a multitude of people who were employed in the arts and culture sectors had lost everything during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They said the artists don’t have homes to return to and have no food to eat.
“The DA implores the NAC to see reason and rather engage with the artists,” Mhlongo and Van Dyk said.
They said the whole sector had suffered from the irrational regulations of government decimating the economy and the arts and culture industry during the extended Covid-19 lockdown.
“This has stripped many South Africans of the dignity of gainful employment. It seems to have stripped the NAC of a little more – their humanity and compassion.”