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Artists gathered at Artscape in Cape Town to demand answers from the National Arts Council over relief funding meant to support artists affected by the pandemic and economic crunch.

  • Artists gathered in Cape Town to give protest performances over the
    management of funding meant to offer relief to the industry.
  • The arts sector has been hard hit by the pandemic, with many
    entertainment venues forced to close under Covid-19 regulations.
  • The artists claim funds meant to offer them relief have been mismanaged.

Artists gathered at Artscape in Cape Town on Saturday to demand answers
from the National Arts Council (NAC) over relief funding meant to support
artists affected by the pandemic and economic crunch.
The artists presented a variety of performances in solidarity with
colleagues in Johannesburg, highlighting the skills and talents of a highly
specialised industry “which has been decimated by Covid-19”, the
organisers said in a statement.
The arts industry is questioning the NAC’s allocation of R300 million,
handed over as part of the Presidential Economic Stimulus Package (PESP) last
year.
The event organisers said while some artists received funds initially,
many of the disbursements were then reassessed and the funding recalled.
The protest performances in Cape Town were in solidarity with acclaimed
opera singer Sibongile Mngoma and a group of 20 artists who have peacefully
occupied the NAC offices in Johannesburg.
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Durban shot at during protest against lockdown regulations
Mngoma said: “The groundswell of support across the country shows
that our cause is shared and of utmost importance. Sit-ins, hunger strikes and
protest marches – these are clarion calls for meaningful change in the agencies
and government departments that are tasked with the care of arts and culture.
“We call upon creative industry practitioners across SA to unite
and take action wherever they can so that truth, transparency and progress can
prevail and our industry can get up off its knees and thrive.”
The protests come a year after theatres and entertainment venues were
forced to close under Covid-19 regulations.
“As South Africa’s lockdown reaches a full year that has seen
theatres closed, live entertainment and music venues shuttered, touring school
and professional productions shelved, film and television shoots at a minimum,
markets and festivals cancelled or drastically downsized, South Africa’s
performing artists are in a desperate situation and are actively seeking
meaningful engagement with the [Department of Arts and Culture] and ways to
reinvigorate and revive their industry, with the support that the PESP was
intended to provide,” the statement read.