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R6m is ‘not enough’ - Cape minstrels

Cape Minstrels showing their colours marching down Darling street. Picture Henk Kruger

Cape Minstrels showing their colours marching down Darling street. Picture Henk Kruger

Published Nov 18, 2014

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Cape Town - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says “Christmas has come early” for the minstrels, Christmas bands and Malay choirs, but there are concerns the R6 million they’re getting in government funding won’t be enough.

After years of acrimony and threats of legal action, representatives of the various minstrel groups, Malay choirs and Christmas bands confirmed on Monday they had joined forces to form the Cape Cultural and Carnival Committee.

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De Lille said this committee would be the event organiser, with the city only providing financial and logistical support of R3.65 million to ensure events such as the Minstrel Carnival, which involves about 13 000 minstrels, were properly managed.

The rest of the money will come from the province.

Alluding to past festive season disputes between the city and the minstrel associations, De Lille quipped: “Christmas comes early this year.”

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But for some of the minstrel associations who attended Monday’s “historic” announcement, the R6m contribution won’t even scratch the surface, and there are concerns the city will “wash its hands” of the event once it has fulfilled its financial obligation.

Patrick Brink, a member of the new cultural committee, said the money would not filter down to the more than 70 minstrel teams that needed cash to prepare for events running until April when the competitions are held.

He said it could cost up to R150 000 for one team to prepare for just one New Year’s Eve parade.

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Melvyn Matthews, Klopse Association deputy director and member of the new committee, said that since the funding would be used only for the street parades the minstrel associations and their groups would have to find additional funding.

“We have got to make do with what we have.”

Matthews said the minstrel parades were being marketed as a key tourism attraction and therefore needed financial backing from all levels of government.

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“We need to unlock the unknown potential of the carnival.”

Kevin Momberg of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association, who will head the new committee, was unequivocal about the need for more financial support.

“We have signed lots of agreements in the past. But what will make this agreement a success is the support of all the parties - and money is what will make this a success.”

But he said the minstrels needed ongoing support, not just a one-off cash injection.

“The city needs to endorse us for corporate sponsors. We will run our own affairs and this comes with its own challenges.

“Hopefully the city won’t wash its hands of us.”

Momberg also thanked an absent Marius Fransman, provincial head of the ANC, for “being the one who got us all together”.

The ANC controversially stepped into the fray last year when the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association and the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association threatened to take the DA-led city to court because it wanted to appoint an event organiser to manage the event.

“We never dreamed of becoming bedfellows (with the city and province) because at all times we have been at loggerheads,” said Momberg.

The new agreement would not be the panacea for all ills, but it would temper the “level of our fighting”.

De Lille said the time had arrived for “cultural groups to show Cape Town that you can do it on your own, as you have done in the past”.

In 2011, retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O’Regan was called in to mediate between the city and the minstrel associations who co-organised the events for the next three years.

De Lille said the Minstrel Carnival Association and the Kaapse Kloapse Karnival Association had indicated last year they wanted a long-term policy change that would include giving the city a supportive rather than a co-ordinating role.

The city would provide R3.65m for financial and logistical support, and would also waive venue rental and other logistical fees for services that could not be sourced by the committee.

Nomafrench Mbombo, MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport, confirmed that the provincial government would contribute R2.3m for the 2014/15 financial year.

“We consider the annual events as fundamental to the Western Cape’s heritage and culture.”

De Lille said the committee would have to provide a full event report before the end of March. It would also have to put “effective, efficient and transparent” financial management systems in place to guard against “fraud, theft and financial mismanagement”.

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Cape Argus

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