Artists not paid for eThekwini municipality’s online gigs
Durban - Some Durban artists who performed in the various eThekwini municipality-funded virtual concerts recently, claimed they are yet to be paid despite R8 million being budgeted for the live entertainment and leisure initiative.
Several artists raised choruses of alarm after the Sunday Tribune revealed in an article, last week, details on the budget earmarked for the virtual concerts.
The concerts were staged for the benefit of entertainment-deprived eThekwini residents while encouraging them to stay at home and adhere to Covid-19 lockdown protocols.
This presented gig opportunities for artists between April and June.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda suspended future concerts and requested a report outlining all financial implications, as the municipality’s top brass were apparently taken by surprise by the events and the spending spree.
When he suspended the concerts, Kaunda reassured artists they would be paid, adding that the city council would speed up attending to all internal issues.
But some artists, through their managing agents, expressed consternation over not being paid, after submitting all the required documentation. Apparently, the municipality accounts were frozen pending investigations into the payments, some artists claimed.
The virtual concert, known as PRC TV was organised by the city’s Parks, Culture and Recreation Department headed by Thembinkosi Ngcobo.
It featured sessions of music, talk shows, dance and poetry and hosted by well-known local personalities.
All sessions were live on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
“The mayor (Kaunda) promised the artists that they will be paid. However, I would like to inform you that some artists have not been paid to date.
“Despite having order numbers, waiting for the indicated 30 days and having all their paperwork in order, they are now told that the PRC account has been frozen due to investigation.
“Some of these artists are in desperate need of those funds to buy essential food items. Artists in the city are going hungry and it is a very painful situation since many feel that they were given work that could have afforded them food for months,” said an agent, who asked not to be named, fearing reprisals.
While payments were an issue to some, others cried foul over the criteria used by the municipality to select performing artists.
Durban comedian Carvin Goldstone, who was not part of the programme, said he sent his proposal to the municipality but never received any response. He lamented that many artists were in trouble and desperately needed assistance.
“Some of us have been fortunate enough to make money on our own through virtual shows and donations but others do not have that luxury.
“So if the municipality has plans and programmes we would like to be invited to make our contribution.
“Some of us only heard about the virtual concert when it was already underway. This is not about me as an individual, but I know a lot of artists who are struggling to make ends meet, this would have been an opportunity for them,” he said.
When approached about the payments to the artists, Msawakhe Mayisela, the municipality’s spokesperson said they would not comment further on the matter until all internal issues were resolved.
“After the mayor met with the artists regarding this issue, the city has stated categorically that the matter is receiving the attention of the leadership.
“As a result, we made an undertaking that we will communicate with the media about our next course of action once our internal processes have reached finality.
“We appreciate the interest, but we appeal that you give us space to attend to this matter.
“The most important thing is that the leadership is attending to it,” said Mayisela.
The Sunday Tribune