Protesting artists vow to vacate NAC offices today

The DA notes that the impasse between the National Arts Council (NAC) and protesting South African artists has come to an end after 60 days, with the artists having announced on Friday that they will vacate the NAC offices today.

Opera singer and president of Im4theArts and the South African United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation (SAUCCIF), Sibongile Mngoma, who started the sit-in on 1 March 2021 after the NAC refused her request for information regarding contracts signed with artists for funding from the R300 million Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP), told the Sowetan that the artists’ next stop would be the offices of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane acted as mediator between the NAC and the artists.

The DA commends the artists for their peaceful protests which demanded transparency from the NAC as to how contracts and the disbursement of relief funding were awarded. We believe that this list should still be made public and once again call for an independent forensic, and a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation. The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, and the NAC council must also appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture to account for their part in the tragedy unfolding in the South African arts and culture sector.

While this peaceful demonstration has come to an end, those who make their living from the arts and culture industries are still suffering from the country’s economic freefall brought about by the continued Covid-19 lockdown. Minister Mthethwa must explain why the very industry he is meant to support and bolster during this time of crisis has been left to languish and decay, threatening the livelihoods of thousands, and destroying our nation’s unique talent and cultural heritage in the process.

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