REAGEN ALLEN: How govt can start taking the entertainment industry seriously


The recent passing of movie and television icon Shaleen Surtie-Richards has put into spotlight the tough circumstances that those in the entertainment industry face in South Africa.

Artists still do not have the proper legislation affording them opportunity to receive royalties they deserve in an equitable manner. This, despite the Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill being sent back to Parliament to fix in June 2020.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa said that MPs find it difficult to make ends meet, yet his very government is oblivious to the needs of the citizens of this country to survive, including those in the entertainment industry. His government can correct legislation to allow for the proper disbursement of royalties, but refuses to listen to the outcries of those in the sector.

What type of government worries about their own pocket, but forgets the needs of those they govern?

This is not the first time that national government completely ignores the plight of those in the industry. Earlier this year artists had to protest over the COVID-19 Relief Funding which was owed to them. Furthermore, they had to sit back and watch how R300 million meant to go towards artists as part of the President's Economic Stimulus Package was allegedly mismanaged.

Whilst national government continues to take an inept approach towards the industry, we must acknowledge that the Western Cape Provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport distributed R4.7 million to 715 successful artists in 2020 when national government fell short of providing these artists with the necessary funding during the height of the pandemic. Whilst this is a small gesture in comparison to what is needed, the fact that the provincial department acted outside of their mandate to do what national government failed to do, should be applauded.

The finalisation of the legislation will ensure that content creators are protected, and there is a process to follow for the equitable protection and rights that the Bills seek to regulate. If government truly valued their role, then they would deal with the Bills as a priority issue.

Reagen Allen is an MPL and Democratic Alliance spokesperson for cultural affairs and sport in the Western Cape.

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