In a bid to alleviate local artists’ plight, government has through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development availed Relief Fund for the Arts and Culture sector.
The relief packages were announced by Minister Tumiso Rakgare on Monday and several artists have expressed mixed reactions regarding the aid. The Patriot Lifestyle had a chat with some. Many applauded government for the economic support which they say will go a long way in cushioning them from the covid-19 effects which has negatively impacted on their livelihoods. There were however other aspects raised by the Minister which some artists believe government should have also addressed.
According to guidelines from MyscBW, government will provide relief allowances for arts and culture practitioners and wage subsidy for arts and culture practitioners in organisations, groups, agencies and trusts. The payments will be a P2500.00 wage subsidy for full time employees of organisations, relief allowance for artists registered with Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) and arts organisations over a period of three months (April, May,June 2020). While those registered for the 2020 President’s Day Competitions will receive a P1000 .00 once off relief allowance.
Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) Vice President Gilbert ‘PP’ Seagile said Mysc Management has previously consulted them about relief packages and they are happy that some of their contributions have been adopted. Seagile said they are however concerned about the issue of government identifying professional artists with COSBOTS.This follows after Minister Rakgare indicated that the artists must be registered with the organisation as an eligibility criteria for them to access the funding noting that there are around 980 of those. Seagile has however criticised the criteria noting that COSBOTS is where artists take their music for royalties not to identify who is a professional artists or not.
“COSBOTS is there to serve the interest of their registered members but there are some professional artists who have not registered with the organisation because they didn’t want to. So it is wrong for COSBOTS to be used to identify that someone is a professional artists or not because anyone can take his music to COSBOTS but that does not mean the person is a professional artists,” Seagile complained.
Seagile is worried that if government is to use that system majority of professional artists who have not registered with the organisation will not be assisted. He indicated that there are about 3000 artists in the country and COSBOTS has only registered over 900 lamenting that the rest of the artists will be left out.
For his part, Veteran Kwasa-Kwasa musician, Frank ‘Franco’ Lesokwane said even though he appreciate government’s effort he however believes that more should have been done on artists relief allowance adding that government should have also included those who their shows were disrupted by the pandemic.
Franco whose much anticipated Soulful Fill Up show was postponed said he had hoped that government as their parent would have considered to assist them not meaning that it is their responsibility to do so. On Monday Minister Rakgare said government will not be able to assist in everything encouraging those who their shows have been cancelled to go and prepare themselves again so that when everything settles they can plan to host their shows again.
Franco criticized that government is not considering the huge losses they encountered in terms of already paid promotions and advertorials. He highlighted that for that alone he made a loss of around P150 000 .00. The musician said he had thought that even if its not in a form of financial assistance government would have at least pledged to somehow assist them in kind. “It can be of great help if government can at least pledge to advertise our shows on their media houses such as Radio Botswana and Daily Newspaper,” Franco highlighted.
Bonno ‘DJ Colastraw’ Ngaka of Francistown based Toropo Ya Muka Festival has also expressed hope that government will assist them to facilitate their shows post covid-19. This he said can be in terms of negotiating better prices for government owned venues where the shows will be held. Colastraw whose annual event was scheduled to be held from May 30 to September 29 this year revealed that he also made losses of around P150 000.00. The musician has however concurred with Rakgare that such events always has their own uncertainties.
“At the end of the day the pandemic is a situation beyond our control and no one can be blamed for it. A show you can invest half a million into it and lose it all,” Colastraw stressed.
Just like many other artists, the renowned DJ has also applauded government for the relief fund, “I think the allowance its fair enough, its not the money we earned through wo