Solidarity in the arts: Creatives plead with govt to fix NAC COVID funding drama

It's been three and a half weeks since creatives started nationwide sit-ins calling for clarity surrounding the distribution and mismanagement of a COVID-19 relief fund.

Artists and creatives in Cape Town are performing and protesting in solidarity with others across the country who are taking a stand against the alleged mismanaged of the President Employment Stimulus Programme. Picture: Lizell Persens/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN – Artists have pleaded with government to support the ailing sector where millions of livelihoods continue to be impacted.

It's been three and a half weeks since creatives started nationwide sit-ins calling for clarity surrounding the distribution and mismanagement of a COVID-19 relief fund.

To show solidarity, performers in Cape Town took to the Artscape Theatre on Saturday and showcased protest art performances.

The Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) was introduced as a means of creating job opportunities in the industry...but applicants claim the majority of the R300 million fund was squandered by the National Arts Council (NAC).

The council has since denied the claims.

READ: NAC says it will probe alleged COVID relief application fraud

The steps of the Artscape Theatre were alight with colourful displays from artists singing, dancing, and showcasing their array of talents outside.

Many said they had been ignored, forgotten and have essentially been hung out to dry by government.

Though the NAC's chief executive officer and chief financial officer were suspended pending an investigation into alleged corruption and mismanagement of the fund.

ALSO READ: NAC COVID Funding - R90 mn shortfall, pleas for more money yet artists cry foul

Afro-fusion band, Abavuki's Bongani Ngesi said someone needs to account for the irregularities and fraudulent overpayments to some PESP beneficiaries.

“Nobody is answering. Somebody should come to the forefront and tell us why, because we are human beings too and we need to eat too.”

Fox Bruins-Lich, from Vava Voom Entertainment, said she would continue making her voice heard if it meant creatives would get the support they desperately need in order to survive.

She feels let down by those entrusted with the task of ensuring artists are taken care of.

“They won’t look after us now during a pandemic when we need to support our brothers and sisters who are in less fortunate areas than some of us in more metropolitan cities. We are literally here to fight for the rights of not just the artists, but every single person that is involved.”

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.