More needs to be done for arts sector: Mahasa

The arts sector finds itself in a difficult position due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a lot needs to be done to revive it, says sport, arts, culture and recreation MEC Limakatso Mahasa.

Tabling her 2021/2022 budget vote on Tuesday, Mahasa said the pandemic has not only had a negative impact on the sector, but the whole economy.

“Not only have Covid-19 restrictions made the functioning of the sector near impossible, but the budget cuts that followed also had an enormous impact on the sector,” she said.

Mahasa further cited the sector had suffered the most due to restrictions imposed because of Covid-19.

“Although this is the case, we shall not despair, and I must indicate that the commitments we are making today will seek to provide some relief to our desperate artists and athletes,” she noted.

Mahasa indicated her department was able to meet local artists half way in the previous financial year through the Relief Fund for artists and athletes.

“While this intervention went a step to address the conditions of many artists, much more support is still required,” she said

She added the department has embarked on another drive to provide relief to artists, with R2 million allocated to achieve this objective.

The MEC told the house that her department would in the new financial year continue to rollout programmes within the Cultural Affairs Department. This includes the much-talked about Creative Sector Summit that was planned in the previous financial year.

The establishment of a film commission is another talking point.

According to Mahasa, the department is on course to establish the commission which is likely to be a huge revenue generation and economy boosting project.

Legal advice has been sought on the registration of the commission and the process will soon be finalised based on this opinion.

Theatre, poetry, comedy, visual arts and music programmes will continue following the successful implementation of an outreach initiative in Matjhabeng and Moqhaka in 2020.

District festivals will also be held to showcase theatre, poetry, comedy, visual arts and music programmes, culminating in a provincial event in December.

For this financial year, the Cultural Affairs programme has been allocated R128 million, added the MEC.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi