Durban Music school is facing closure due to lack of funding which may see more than 50 people losing their jobs while 700 students will see their dreams fade. Picture: SIBUSISO NDLOVU / African News Agency

Durban - Durban art centres who are on the verge of collapse due to funding shortages are set to be rescued by the eThekwini Municipality as a grant-in-aid has been set aside to keep them afloat.

The report tabled before the Community and Emergency Services Committee by Thembinkosi Ngcobo, Head of Park, Culture and Recreation said 17 arts institutions would share a budget of R16m in the next financial year, which commences in July.

Some centres, including the historic Durban Music School in Ablert Park, had already discontinued some of its programmes and retrenched staff.  

The growing number of NGOs who were unable to raise funds was a major cause for their financial problems, according to the school’s chief executive, Kim Matthews. 

Matthews said she was relieved by the news and hoping to receive more sponsors to help underprivileged music enthusiasts.

Over the years, the school has attracted many donors through its influence.

However, the school is now facing the risk of becoming a white elephant as the funding shrunk over the past years, she said. 

The school has an enrollment of 700 students, among whom 600 were orphaned. 

It employed 50 staff whose jobs were on the line. 

Matthews said over the years the school relied solely on donations because it was unable to raise funds through events. Four times a year, the centre puts on concerts and invites the community to come and listen at no charge.

“Parents cannot afford to buy tickets but we want them to be part of our events. Some of our sponsors have pulled out because their demand for funding has gone high from other organisation who needed funding like us. It was sad that with the equipment we have and the facilities we have, that we won't be able to keep our doors open next month if our books remain as they are. We can no longer afford to pay our staff and bills but we still hoping something will come up," said Matthews.

Ngcobo said the identified organisation had sound governance and financial management system. 

The report stated that to ensure optimum and efficient usage of allocated funding, the city has a responsibility to provide necessary capacity building and after-care support services to funded organisations. 

“We consult with both national and provincial department of art and culture to determine the level of support these institutions may be receiving from them. We also consult with other agencies to ensure equitable funding, grant funding and material support to recognise institutions and projects with strategic objectives common to those of the city,” he said.

The report was approved and welcomed by all political parties.

Sunday Tribune