Artists in Mpumalanga embarked on a slow drive around Mbombela expressing dissatisfaction with the level of support from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
The artist, mostly musicians claim to be struggling to make ends meet. They claim that most of the artists that usually perform in local events are from other provinces.
The convoy of disgruntled artists claim that local artists are not recognised and empowered. They also allege that only a selected few benefit from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
Last week, the artists were shot at and arrested while trying to submit a memorandum of grievances to the MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture.
One of the aggrieved artists, Dumsani Masilela, says for years they have been trying to engage the Department on the issue.
“The Department is treating us like they are treating their stepdaughter and sons. In fact, we are demanding 70% of all events happening here in Mpumalanga and we demand meaningful empowerment, we demand the department to create platforms for artist of Mpumalanga”
The Union representing artists, the Creative Workers Union of South Africa shares the same sentiments. Alpheus Nhlabatsi from the union says as long as there are no programmes to unearth, develop and empower local artists, the problem will continue.
“Artist rights are violated, if they express their rights, they are blacklisted, and they wont get or be given a job anymore, what surprises us is that a service provider won’t work without a contract but artists do, this thing has destroyed so many bands.”
The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has refuted claims that it doesn’t support local artists. Spokesperson for the Department, Sibongile Nkosi, says measures have been put in place to prioritise local artists.
“It is not true that we are not supporting local artists in Mpumalanga, I think we must appreciate that we have got a lot of artists in the province. It is not only Ehlanzeni but other regions.With the current cultural experience we had our 90/10, we set our self a target that when there is an event we comply with the 90/10, also there is standardised money that we pay to artists, we categorise them in terms of national, provincial and local.”
The Department cited the lack of events because of the COVID-19 as having put a financial strain on the artists. It says its doors are always open.
Artists hand memorandum to the President’s Office: