The past two years (2020-2022) has been described as the most hard and excruciating ones both locally and internationally. The advent of Covid-19 has brought about sorrow and sadness in the lives of many who had lost their loved ones due to succumbing to Covid-19 and other related complications, with the creative industry been the most hit by such (a) of death which happened unexpectedly.
Whilst we have many good and gifted artists in South Africa, I think we have not yet come to terms with the reality about the challenges they face on a daily basis. Artists are humans (fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and uncles) who are breadwinners and have families to cater for. In South Africa artists seem to be ignored and their artworks not taken serious because we do not have a system that protect and promote artistic creativity.
During hard lockdown when other workers from other sectors were granted relief grants, only artists were taken from pillar to post with nobody willing to help them. The National Arts Council, the body representing artists in this country played hide and seek instead of paying relief grants to the creative men and women who were going hungry. Artists decided to stage a “Sit-On” in the offices of the National Arts Council in order for them to be paid the relief grant. It took them closer to six (6) weeks for them to get the attention of the whole of South Africa. Interestingly, the Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture’s office continued to say that they have money made available for the disgruntled artists which will be disbursed by the NAC.
I think the issue of cadre deployment to the sectors that which they are not competent at is continuing to cripple the sector. It will be proper to have someone with the knowledge, expertise and an art practitioner to be appointed in that role as they will understand the plight of the artists. There is so much that need to be changed and or dealt with in this country in order to level the playing field and to ensure that it is conducive for our artists.