The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the department of sports, arts and culture (DSAC) to re-open the application period for artists and athletes to access support funding from the Arts and Sports Sector Relief Fund.
DA MP Veronica van Dyk said the party has also submitted parliamentary questions to Minister Nathi Mthetwa in this regard.
“Our request follows a questionable application period, which came to an end on 6 April 2020. The DA has received several complaints from artists who have raised concerns with regards to the discrepancies of the application process and that they did not have enough time to complete their applications,” said Van Dyk.
She said some of the complaints include:
- The application forms could not be completed online. Artists needed access to the internet, a computer and a printer to complete the form – which was difficult, and in some cases impossible, for those without these facilities due to the lockdown restrictions. Many artists also indicated that drop-down menus on the form would have been optimal instead of having to print the form.
- Of particular concern was the fairness of the application process, especially with regards to the lack of information about the criteria for who qualifies for funding. The form omitted vital questions which could have assisted an independent adjudication panel in comparing applications fairly, such as what percentage of artists’ incomes come from touring, streaming and sales; their historical earnings and bank statements. These discrepancies raise concerns on how the applications received were approved and verified when there was no real indication of on what basis adjudicators approved or rejected applications.
- Many artists also missed out on the deadline because they were simply not aware that funding was available. The department failed to utilise official channels of communication, such as Southern African Music Rights Organisation and South African Music Performance Rights Association to inform artists that funding was available and to provide a detailed explanation of the application process.
- A further concern has been the fact that relief seems to have only been aimed at DSAC-funded projects and institutions, and that the non-DSAC funded projects which could access relief were exclusively the ones from a specific list of national industry organisations – this too is problematic and the DA has written to the minister to request clarity in this regard.
“It is alarming that the department would exclude any artist from accessing funding, especially as many of their livelihoods have been impacted with festivals, concerts and many other entertainment facilities having to shut their doors. All artists should have an equal opportunity to access funding with clear communication from the department on the application process and criteria.”
Van Dyk said the DA also called on the department to relook the application process to ensure that it is fair to every artist who applies.
“If our artists, engineers, recording studios and producers cannot access funding – there might not be an industry left after we overcome the pandemic. The arts and culture sector will be one of the very last to get back on its feet and government has to ensure that it does everything in its power to save it.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)