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Protest by Concerned Artists and Occupation of the Office of the MEC in the Northern Cape

The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the sport .arts and culture sector in that we had to readjust the budget of the 2021 / 2022 after we were informed of a budget cut of R 41 million for the financial year.. This has resulted to the fact we had to readjust our Annual Performance Plan, which unfortunately negatively affected developmental and support programmes for artists and athletes.

We need to categorically state as a Department whose mandate is to assist and develop the Artists of the Northern Cape, we feel the pain and suffering that they are currently enduring during the COVID 19 pandemic and we will continue to see how best we can assist them during these trying times. We are at no stage going to turn our backs our constituencies and give them a cold shower.

The Office of the MEC was occupied by a group of concerned Artists who are protesting for funds that were allocated to the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council in the 2020 / 2021 financial . The amount allocated was a once off R 4 million , which was supposed to offset the operationilisation of the Northern Cape, the opening / starting of a music hub and a arts and craft hub. These were also programmes announced by the Premier of the Northern Cape Dr Zamani  Saul in his 2020 State of Province Address in February last year..

In March 2020 , South Africa went into lockdown and hence no arts and culture programmes could be implemented during this period. This therefore resulted that our artists in the Province were severely negatively affected and had a huge impact on the well being of the Artist.

The National Department of Sport , Arts and Culture then made relief funding available for artists where they could apply. As a Department we realised that the artists of the Northern Cape may not all qualify for funding and hence we engaged with representatives from the Arts Sector, requesting that we as a Province utilise the allocated R 4 million to implement a Northern Cape Artist relief programme for Artists to apply for temporary relief. The necessary approval was received from the various role players, stakeholders and arts sector , including the group of artists who are now protesting . A total of 96 qualifying artist then benefitted from the funding.

The Arts Sector then approached the Department in September 2020 for additional funding, of which an additional amount of R 1.5 million was made available after the Annual Performance Plan of the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council was amended by the MEC for Sport , Arts and Culture Ms Desery Fienies in order to provide further relief. The MEC has received the submission and we are addressing a few matters of concern before finalising the process as we need to ensure that artists in all 5 districts in the Province benefit from the relief funding.

However due to the budget cuts that was imposed on the Department only an amount of R 1 million is available from the R 4 million used for Social Relief for the Artists  We are in consultation with Provincial Treasury with regards to the current situation and if there is funds available that can be channelled to the department.

We also need to state that we are going to implement the programmes as agreed upon , we are just challenged with a financial resources available , as we have used the R 4 million for the Artist Relief Programme.
As a department we are also in continuous discussions with the Artists occupying the Office of the MEC, in terms of our current financial situation and the status around the R 4 million.

The current status of affairs is that our offices are still occupied and we will continuously engage with them on the matter, but as it stands there are no funds available to meet there demands.
Issued by: Conrad Fortune
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC
Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Department
Northern Cape
Tell: 053 8314152
Cell: 079 873 0679

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