Creative industry hardest hit by public gathering ban

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Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says they are looking at ways which will ensure that performing artists can continue to do their work in the light of the stringent measures put in place as a result of COVID-19.

Part of the country’s measures to contain the virus is to prohibit the public gatherings of over 100 people. The creative industry is one of the hardest hit with this ban.

Mthethwa met with stakeholders of both Sports and Arts sectors in Pretoria on Tuesday on the department’s stance and decisions that have significant implications on the sector.

Performing artists rely on shows for their livelihood.  The ban on public gatherings means they will be without an income until the ban is lifted.

Minister Mthethwa says as the country tries to contain the virus, it’s now time to explore other ways for creatives artists to continue with their work without an audience.

“In mitigating the situation, one of the things is how do they continue to do what they do best which is their work as artists without an audience. How do we utilise the 4th industrial revolution? How do we engage the public broadcaster to be biased to them, in giving out messages? Messages that highlight the challenges of this COVID 19,” Mthethwa says.

Award-winning producer Dr Sipho Sithole says the department should divert some of its resources to the performing arts sector, seeing that it has postponed numerous events as a result of the virus being declared a national disaster – this by employing technological mechanisms.

“I’m saying the singer must sing, the poet must recite their poem, the dancer must dance, the musicians must play their instruments in theatres even if it’s without audiences and then stream those live on Facebook, YouTube. We’ve seen the figures that live performance is the biggest source of income when it comes to showbiz.”

Sithole says it is important for industry leaders to put pressure on the government to assist artists.

“Well, I am going to make a lot of noise about that the MEC’s in provinces, they must identify the venues, the theatres. The MMC’s in local government must identify theatres, the national government must identify and play a leading role in making sure that the artist performs.”