Artists vow to continue NAC sit-in until demands met

Angry creatives have been demonstrating their resentment towards the NAC, accusing them of leaving them in the dark.

Placards seen at protest art performances outside the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town on 27 March 2021. Picture: Lizell Persens/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Artists who’ve been staging a sit-in at the offices of the National Arts Council office in Johannesburg said that they would not let up until their demands were met.

Their protest, which has garnered support in other provinces, has been going on for 27 days now.

The artists' grievances include a complete list of beneficiaries who benefitted from the R300 million Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, a COVID-19 relief measure meant to revive the battered industry.

They also wanted clarity surrounding the apparent mismanagement of the fund and how the money was being distributed.

Angry creatives have been demonstrating their resentment towards the NAC, accusing them of leaving them in the dark.

According to the council, it's paid R68.4 million to 512 beneficiaries and that a further R216 million would be distributed to 862 beneficiaries in the coming weeks.

Many of them received more than what they applied for, a matter the NAC said that it was investigating.

Saartjie Botha is the director of Stellenbosch's Woordfees, a literary and arts festival.

She said that the funding irregularities came as no surprise.

"I think on a certain level, people cannot answer the questions because they don't know what happened to the money. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now. COVID-19 has brought our industry to a halt, but this is actually pushing us over the edge."

Dancer Nkosinathi Sangweni said that government urgently needed to support the ailing sector which many relied on as their "bread and butter".

"I have to support my mom at home, i have to support my gran at home. I told them that this art can feed us and now this art can't feed us."

At the weekend, Cape Town creatives held protest art performances outside the Artscape Theatre.

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