Artists are feeling the effects of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as many are unable to generate income due to strict regulations prohibiting mass gatherings. In a bid to alleviate their plight, government has availed the Relief Fund for sport and cultural sectors.

For many, live performances are therapeutic.

Artists mostly generate income through live performances. The nationwide lockdown has impacted negatively on their livelihood.

Although government has availed a relief fund to ease their financial woes, not everyone is impressed with the criteria.

Actress Vumisipho Mondi says only a few people are considered in the arts industry.

“A few people are only considered in the art industry. For instance, if you are under an organisation, NPO or NGO; you are considered by all these relief funds or if you had a production and it has been postponed, they can pay for that. And for others, it’s unfortunate and then you ask yourself what is going be my next move.”

Musician Nonkosi “Noxy” Sokoyi says they didn’t sign contracts for some show.

“For some of the shows, we didn’t sign contracts. We didn’t get any agreement note. So it’s very difficult to prove that you were booked. So that criteria is just messing us up.”

Some want the process to be fast-tracked. Musician Tebogo Nkadu is one of the people that qualify for the funding.

“Yes, definitely. I’m going to participate as one of the people that qualify for the funding and would like to thank the Department of Arts and Culture for giving us this opportunity because we were worried as to what will happen to us as artists.”

In the video below, artists say they are facing tough times due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19:

Minister Nathi Mthethwa briefed media on a relief fund for artists:

Case-by-case basis

Government says applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. CCIFSA General Secretary Ayanda Roda says provincial MECs have taken another initiative to assist artists.

“Another initiative, which has been taken by the provincial MECs in the different provinces will also assist in reaching the ground level from municipality level, regional and also the provincial level. So, we really acknowledge and we are happy because we are part of the processes that are taking place from national to a municipality level.”

Applications for the relief fund will close on 12 May.

Culture practitioner and research fellow at the University of Johannesburg, Dr Sipho Sithole discusses the relief fund for artists: