Arts activism: Creatives in Cape Town call for protests against the NAC (National Arts Council), March 2021


What: Lobbying for call  to action – protests against the NAC – National Arts Council SA Where: Cape Town protest performances– venue to be announced Info or if you can assist: Dara Beth by e-mail thefuriesco@gmail.com Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeSurvivorSA/?ti=as and https://www.facebook.com/groups/Im4theArts/?ref=share Hashtags: #Im4theArts #payartists #creativesurvivorSA #Arts4Life    

A year into the pandemic and the live arts industry is in tatters. Discontent and frustration is raging over the alleged non-payment by the NAC (National Arts Council), of R300 million from the presidential employment stimulus programme (PESP). There is frustration over what is widely regarded as a lack of transparency and auditing in the industry, 

The majority of creatives in South Africa are freelance and have lost their income streams due to the pandemic and lockdown regulations. With the pandemic still on the boil, many creatives are desperate for answers from the NAC. 


In the past week, creatives in Joburg began organising a week of Performance Protest to be staged outside the National Arts Council’s offices in support of the brave creatives who are peacefully occupying the NAC, fighting for the rights of all creatives across the country.

In an appeal mailer sent out to Cape Town creatives and shared on social media platforms, people have been offered an opportunity to build a community of Cape Town-based supporters. The hope is to schedule a week of protest performances similar in intention to those in Joburg, to show solidarity and gain attention from the media to highlight the current plight of creatives and the abysmal management of the NAC.


Like the creatives protesting in Joburg, each day performers plan to showcase different sector of our luminous industry. Given that there are no NAC buildings in Cape Town, creatives behind the Cape Town planning are decentralised micro-installation performances across the city centre in the hopes of increasing engagement with the community and visibility of performers. Anyone who can assist is asked to contact Dara Beth at thefuriesco@gmail.com. When protesting, please adhere to physical/social distancing, mask wearing and sanitising.

Gregory Maqoma and Sibongile Mngoma with creative industry practioners have been sitting in the offices of the NAC (National Arts Council) in Johannesburg. They have being protesting against the alleged non-payment by the NAC (National Arts Council), of R300 million from the presidential employment stimulus programme (Pesp). Supplied by Bridget van Oerle.

RESPONSE: Following the publication of the protest action in Joburg and the call-out for creatives to join in Cape Town, a NAC media release was sent to TheCapeRobyn by Zamokuhle Ntsele. It follows, copied in the box:

Press Release For Immediate Publication 17 March 2021  

PESP relief for artists and practitioners in full gear

Some 1 215 practitioners in the arts, culture and heritage sector are receiving much needed relief as the National Arts Council (NAC) moves to full gear to ensure distribution of PESP grants to successful beneficiaries.

After careful due diligence in ensuring that equity, fairness and administrative justice is applied for approved beneficiaries, the NAC is going ahead with contracting and effecting payment to all compliant and approved applicants. 

The new Council that was appointed in January 2021, chaired by the Acting Chairperson of Council,  Princess Celenhle Dlamini, is now confident that all approved, contracted and compliant beneficiaries will be paid by 31 March 2021.

This is as a result of the tireless work by the Council, over the last few weeks, which was to ensure that all hurdles and challenges discovered in the distribution of the PESP  are addressed. Whilst a total 1 215 practitioners’ applications have been finalised, deemed compliant and approved, Council has revealed that there are still a few outstanding approved applications that are yet to be finalised. The work of cleaning up all outstanding approved applications have been assigned to the Council’s War Room. This work is expected to be completed in due course.

To ensure that an honest and transparent process was undertaken, a list of the recipients was published including amounts related to each applicant. The successful applicants are expected to retain and create 24 735 job opportunities through the PESP intervention.

The NAC is urging all published beneficiaries to submit the required information and return the contracts urgently, so as to allow NAC to effect payment for intended beneficiaries. NAC acting chairperson, Princess Celenhle Dlamini, has confirmed the Council’s pledge towards the arts: ‘The NAC is committed to continuously engaging with the industry to solicit counsel from all industry stakeholders, especially practitioners, on how to best work together. The improvement of the lives within the arts, culture and heritage sector remains our top priority. The Council has equally set up communication mechanisms to allow the industry to engage with it in addition to industry briefings.’

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Issued on behalf of National Arts Council  of South Africa by Council Spokesperson, Tshepo Mashiane (072 037 3358)  

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