Artists’ sit-in at Northern Cape MEC’s office enters third week

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A sit-in in the office of the Northern Cape MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture – by some Kimberley artists – has entered its third week. The artists are demanding a revival of the arts, COVID-19 relief funds for some and the full operation of the Northern Cape theatre.

They believe this move will help them recover income lost due to COVID-19 regulations.

Mkhululi Mabija, who is an artist, says they are demanding operations at theatres.

“We demanding that the theatre be operational, the craft and the music hub be operational too for our artists to actually work. But we need the support of the MEC and the province to support us in our quest. They’ve not been taking us seriously, conversations have been had and conversations have just been left in mid-air. And until our demands are met, then we’ll move away from here,” says Mabija.

The provincial Department of Sports Arts and Culture says there are plans to meet the artists halfway. Northern Cape Department of Sports, Arts and Culture Conrad Fortune says an amount of R4 million has been allocated.

“After an intensive exercise of re-prioritising and re-planning we have managed to allocate an amount of R4 million to assist with the implementation of the three projects. We are also in the process of developing a service level agreement which basically indicates how the funding will be utilised and remain in line with all the financial policies and acts of government when incurring expenses.”

The artists say the department’s delay to prioritise their demands is further compromising their already insufficient income.