Arts activism: Creatives in Cape Town, protesting against the NAC (National Arts Council), March 27, 2021
Last afternoon, Saturday, March 27, 2021 and I was at present at Artscape, to witness performances, to draw attention to widespread discontent and frustration with the NAC (National Arts Council). On the table, are issues relating to the alleged non-payment by the NAC (of R300 million from the presidential employment stimulus programme (PESP); lack of transparency and auditing; non-payment and payment to entities who apparently should not be paid. There are many more issues and many, many questions. The bottom line: A year into the pandemic and lockdown, creatives are at breaking point. Whilst some NAC funding is hitting its mark; a lot isn’t. There are organisations and individuals who have received funding but many have not as evidenced from the outrage around the country. I attended this protest, a few hours before the start of Passover – the Jewish festival which hinges on freedom and release from exile. In the pandemic and as a result of lockdown, creatives have been largely exiled from theatres, from performance spaces. With continues lockdown measures and a vaccine programme which is lumbering, crawling along, no one knows when theatres will be able to operate at full capacity and when it will be ‘safe’ and finically viable for theatres to open up. In the meanwhile, financial assistance is essential from the NAC – tasked with ministering to the arts industry. The National Film and Video Foundation NFVF- part of the NAC – has been praised for its disbursement of funding. Filmmakers apply. They are told of the application is successful or not. Lists are published, detailing extol the amounts awarded and the projects and entities involved. This is what is required for the theatre sector. On a personal rant, I suggest that the NAC rolls out vaccines for all creatives working in live performance so that they can teach and perform and be at less risk of getting Covid. As it is, most theatre makers do not have medical aid. They need to get back to work, in confined spaces. Make vaccines available so that they can be ‘safe’. Watch this space for more.