A graffiti consisting of the text "Stay Home" and a symbolic novel coronavirus has been sprayed on the ground in Munich, Germany, Monday March, 16, 2020. Berlin has closed all Bars and pubs because of the corona virus outbreak in Germany. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)
A graffiti consisting of the text "Stay Home" and a symbolic novel coronavirus has been sprayed on the ground in Munich, Germany, Monday March, 16, 2020. Berlin has closed all Bars and pubs because of the corona virus outbreak in Germany. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Coronavirus: Banks urged to be lenient with SA artists as earnings take a knock

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Mar 17, 2020

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PRETORIA – Artists, events management and related performance industries are bound for tough times as many people implement protective measures as the deadly novel coronavirus spreads in parts of South Africa and parts of the world. 

“SAMRO [the Southern African Music Rights Organisation] appreciates and welcomes the President’s [Cyril Ramaphosa] swift action to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We are gravely concerned about what this ban on large gatherings will mean for our members’ financial well-being,” said Nicholas Maweni, chairperson of SAMRO. 

In response to the spreading Covid-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa declared a state of national disaster and subsequently prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people. SAMRO said the presidential pronouncement has immediate adverse effects on live events and performances, which are a lucrative source of income for SAMRO members.

The majority of SAMRO members have two major income streams including royalties collected by the organization, which are distributed periodically, as well as income from performing at events.

SAMRO said one of the revenue streams – the royalties paid by broadcasters are considerable sums. However, the average SAMRO member relies on income from events in-between the royalty distributions.

“Many will instinctively turn to SAMRO for financial bail outs. The financial pressure this will have on SAMRO is one that we are unable to bear,” said Maweni.

Maweni, added that the current situation, while dire for the music industry in the short-term, needs not be all doom and gloom.

“We request all our members to urgently contact their creditors, particularly the financial institutions and landlords and advise them of their changed financial situation and negotiate payment terms to avoid tarnishing their good credit records. We call on all the event owners not to cancel but postpone shows and events until the ban on large gatherings has been lifted,” said Maweni.

“We call on the financial services industry to take cognisance of the erratic nature of SAMRO members’ earning patterns and we appeal to banks and landlords in particular to be more lenient, at least in the next few months, should members request a rescheduling of their facilities’ repayment commitments, be they unsecured loans or asset-based finance instruments.

SAMRO also appealed to broadcasters to go beyond their mandates and play more locally produced music which will help to offset lost earnings from shows and events. Such a move would also contribute to social cohesion in this time of need. 

African News Agency

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