By Mmabore Mogashoa 21 May 2020
Since the start of the pandemic, arts and culture people have been frustrated as a result of lockdown. Events have been cancelled where musicians, writers, crafters, poets, producers, story tellers etc. have experienced loss of income. Most of them die poor because of financial difficulties. There are legends who passed on, famous but by the time of their funeral people realize that there were very poor. With the pandemic now things are getting worse. Most of the people in this sector use their talents to put bread on the table. There is lot of organisations in this sector but things does not seem to improve. Some artist are expected to perform for free or exhibit their products for free in some events because they are told that there is no budget or they have to make people know them first. I have never seen where people do things for free because they are still new, but with this sector that is how it works. An artist record a song, pay the producer and be expected to perform/share the song for free. It is a sector where your music can play all over without getting a cent from it. Artist are even classed as upcoming, local, provincial, international, crowd pullers etc.
Government is trying to help because there is a relief fund that is supposed to help the artists but the problem is the criteria used. 1. Tax clearance required, which to some causes lot of stress. 2. Proof of an event that has been cancelled because of COVID-19, only few were booked for events and most perform at weddings, taxi rank, malls, parties etc. Some of the events were postponed and no one knows when the pandemic will end so that they can have an opportunity to earn an income. Some have no proof because of verbal agreements. People will apply yes, what about those who cannot use internet? Unable to read and write? Who were never performed at events? Will the money go back to government while people of the sector are starving?
Some of the arts people complain that they are expected to perform for free at events while catering companies and others service providers are being paid. There is also a problem as some artists still lack information on how their talent can be business. Others say they have registered companies but because of not getting income their businesses collapse as a result of business accounts bank charges. Arts and culture people are in every community, some are not supported as people buy things from others places/people while they give service or products of good quality. In lot of events artists coming from another countries are paid more than them. For a brand/artist to grow someone has to start somewhere, get information to be successful but in the arts and culture is a bit difficult. Some artists have been in the industry for long but things are still the same. Local service/products will not only help the artists but our economy too and people must be proud for what is done in their own village/town/ country. Artists are part of our heritage and some teach us things we didn’t know, comforting us and reminding is who we are. Something should be done to help arts and culture people to live a better life free from poverty. As an artist you have to register with organisations like SAMRO,SAMPRA, CAPASSO, get RISA number and so many things to finally get royalties and be paid for live performances. Something should be done to help the artist as people listen to music, watch TV and so many things happen because of them. But most of them are struggling financially and now with the pandemic they are really frustrated and we wish that the department of arts and culture will work with them to reduce the level of poverty. Will most of them qualify for the funding? If not will they be given a chance to apply again or get help on how they can qualify?