Vote me Art Seminars

Text by Phindile Madlala

Photos by Lindeka Qampi

TOPIC: Vote Me – Arts Seminars

VENUE: K- CAP Kwa-Mashu

DATE: 08/03/2019

TIME: 2:00 pm

  • This dialogue was aimed at developing viable structures within the Arts industry in different municipalities, government departments at national, provincial and local level – with the aim of finding solutions to combat chronically high unemployment affecting the country.
  • Representatives from different political parties, as listed below, were invited to address artists on how best can they could resolve challenges faced by various artists within the arts, culture and heritage sector.

The political parties’ panel was represented as follows by;  

 

Economic Freedom Fighters  = EFF B. Khoza
African National Congress = ANC Nomagugu Simelane
Democratic Alliance = DA Hlengiwe Shozi
Inkatha Freedom Party = IFP Councilor Mdu Nkosi
People’s Revolutionary Movement = PRM Nhlanhla Buthelezi 
African Christian Democratic Party = ACDP Joan Downs
Black First Land First = BLF Vusi Mhlaba

Bongani Mavuso, the Khozi FM presenter, was the moderator.

Brian Mhlongo, a political analyst was also in attendance.

The panel was given the following questions to respond to;

  • Why should the Arts community vote for your political party?
  • Is the Arts budget undermined?
  • How will your party prioritize the Arts and Heritage Sector towards addressing the country’s triple challenges?

Parties’ Responses:

IFP – Acknowledged that domestic artists weren’t being fairly recognized as compared to their international counterparts.

EFF–  Spoke of how local artists were being exploited by giving an example of say a white woman comes, haggles for a low price from the vendors, buys their works and exports the product to resell at high costs.

  • They felt the government needed to assist the crafts sector when it comes to packaging, marketing and pricing of their products in order to bridge the gap of exploitation.
  • Another contrast made was that of artists dying with nothing but recognition because they are underpaid and heavily exploited.  An example given was that of Ray Phiri vs Paul Simon. Mahlathini was another legend who died with nothing.
  • They stated that the government didn’t show any interest when it came to local artists.
  • There had to be plans in place for government to ensure that local artists are skilled and educated.

ANC– The ruling party defended its stance by saying the Arts sector wasn’t underimined, at the same time conceding that it received a minimal budge

  • They stated that they gave priority to programmes that tended to affect society as a whole
  • That they prioritized and offered a fair budget to important sectors that cover water, sanitation, infrastructure etc.
  • They denied that as the ruling party, they didn’t take notice of the artists as they have assisted in the burial of several local artists when their families failed to do so.
  • They pointed out that there was a policy that was adopted in September 2018, which outlines how the government pays local artists;  how an artist can go about cutting out the middlemen when it comes to markets and exports, etc
  • As a party, they believed in the standardized rate that would be agreed upon artists and employers.
  • They also said as a party, they had allocated grant in aid funds to assist in the development of art structures.

DA- They felt  that there was no bidding conducted when it came to international artists payments.

  • It seemed to them that international artists were the ones calling the shots by stipulating what their payments would be, while government did not offer any resistance.
  •  DA as a party did not agree to bringing in international artists and paying them fare shares.
  • They noted that the ruling party had no shame in saying that they bury local artists when they are dead because they undermined them while still alive, by not paying them accordingly.
  • Their vision for the arts sector was stated as;

– Investing in Arts regardless of age, gender and race

– Constructing more arts hubs/centres

– Skill development

  • They closed by sloganeering: One South Africa for All.

PRM– Stated that they believe in being in direct consultation with artists

  • They plan on building amphitheatres
  • They would ensure that the most vulnerable – black artists – are are not exploited
  • They would ensure that credit, recognition and payment is given where it’s due and gave an example of design work design of the Moses Mabhida Stadium being stolen from a black person as well as the Vodacom please call me campaign.

BLF – pledged that they would draft a new constitution and policies

  • They felt that the there was neither representation nor diversity at art centres because they were under predominantly white management. Changing that would allow more voices to be heard and seen.

The political analyst felt that the arts sector wasn’t being taken seriously as it was underfunded and undermined.  He noted that the budget allocation happened once or twice a year when there were certain events, as opposed to there being a set budget to cover all events.  Sadly the arts industry didn’t seem to be a priority at the moment, he noted.

  Artists also got an opportunity to make their grievances known;

  • They pointed out that officials within the Arts and Culture ministry and local municipalities didn’t seem to hold the pertinent qualifications for their jobs thus they lack fundamental knowledge which leads to  lack of interest and inadequate rendering of services.
  • They noted that festivals got a big chunk of the funding and only a few artists were selected and benefiting .
  • They felt that the budget should take into consideration other areas such as capacity building as opposed to just funnelling money to festivals
  • It was noted that municipalities took longer in drafting policies affecting or shaping the arts sector
  • Local government needed to be visible and interact with local artists and assist in the drafting of policies

Political parties gave closing remarks as follows;

ACDP– pledged to consult with respective artists within their respective spheres

IFP– noted that artists need to be supported by the Government in uplifting them by ensuring that they deploy MECs with relevant qualifications and skills in respective government departments

EFF– pledged to ensure that they create a directorate within the Arts and Culture ministry, that will directly engage with the artists

  • They would also ensure procurement personnel within the Arts Department have the qualification and skill to directly engage artists.
  • They pledged to safeguard against exploitation of the artist saying ‘nothing about the artists without the artists’

ANC– The ruling party didn’t feel that the MEC had to be qualified/have know how about a particular department because there are Heads of Department  (HOD) who are required to perform those duties.  They gave an example of MEC Bheki Cele not being necessarily a policeman but performing outstandingly.

  • They reminded those in attendance that the ruling party had done so much in the arts industry as they had funded arts centres and local films such as Uzalo

DA – stated that they would require that both MEC and HOD hold relevant qualifications for the Departments they are leading, so that they know what they are doing.

PRM– called for unity amongst artists so that they spoke with one voice.  They called for every mall to have a dedicated area for arts and culture

  • Encouraged artists to know their worth and their shares from Google

EFF– Urged government to ensure that all artists get free equipment, by way of a once off grant.

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