MEC Maki Mahasa is adamant the Free State will achieve its objective of developing a strong arts and culture industry, working closely with relevant stakeholders.
Tabling her budget vote on Tuesday, Mahasa said she was well aware of the challenges and need to strengthen developmental projects in the arts and culture department, saying some criticism has enabled her to look closely to the raised issues. Although the main criticism from opposition parties has been mainly on Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe), she noted that there was more to the department than the 10-day music festival.
The MEC said more funds would be injected into the festival this year for marketing and advertising to lure more people.
Over the past five years, the projected attendance to the show has been 100 000 over the 10-day fiesta, a fact that appears to be worrisome to the MEC.
“We need to invest more in the project and ensure that we grow the festival to more than just 100 000 people,” she said.
While the investment might have resonated well with members of the community, the participation of local artists remains a thorny issue. This was also raised by Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela during her State of the Province Address (SOPA).
Mahasa noted she had met with the Premier to look at ways of ensuring local artists are paid similar to national artists, which has been a burning issue over the years.
She added after this engagement, prioritisation of local artists would now go beyond just Macufe.
“We need to look at prioritising our local artists beyond the borders of Macufe and create a sustainable industry for arts and culture in the province. This includes the establishment of local programmes to benefit our local acts,” she pointed out.
In the coming financial year, the department will establish a choral music structure called the Lengau Choral Music Association (LECMA) to give impetus to the genre in the province.
Mahasa said R3 million has been put into the association since its inception and as a result of the strong support for the programme, the department will establish the Free State Provincial Mass Choir along the lines of the Soweto Gospel Choir.
The programme will be followed by the Police Gospel Choir to be held on October 17-19. By doing this, Mahasa said the department was looking to grow various music festivals in the province.