Wednesday 2021-04-14

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ARTISTS BLANK ABOUT GOVERNMENT SUBVENTION

By Sibusiso Dlamini | 2021-03-01

ARTISTS in the country have stated that they have absolutely no idea what the Eswatini National Culture and Arts Council (ENCAC) does with the subvention it receives from government.

They said this when interviewed yesterday for comments on the 2021/2022 budget estimates tabled by the Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg last week Friday. The minister announced an allocation of E3 979 360 which has been allocated over the past three financial years.

To say artists were gutted would be an understatement as some refused to comment on the matter, mentioning how they were not considered in any of the decisions made by the council.

"Look, I could start by complaining and saying maybe this is the perfect proof that government does not care about the arts, but on the flip side of the coin, what has the arts done to prove its value? We do not know what the council does with the meagre funding it currently receives, so how can we justify asking more funding?

It is wild that artists do not even know what projects the council does,” said Antidote's Mmely Hlanze. Some artists who asked to remain anonymous as they felt being vocal about their needs and requests was detrimental to their careers.

“This means all our efforts are in vain in this industry. We are taken as a 'by the way' case as always. It is a serious stance on government's part especially since entertainment has been stopped indefinitely since March last year.

Means of engaging through the 'right' channels to discuss our plight have yielded nothing, clearly drastic times call for drastic measures," said Slotta.

This has affected artists across the industry as poets and actors also said they were not happy about the budget and how it was spent by the association. Poet Majaha Nkonyane and actor Thembinkhosi Mthethwa also shared the same sentiments.

“I have been an artists for so many years but I only learnt recently that there's money government allocates to our sector. Where does it go and which artist does it help? There's no poet in the country that survives through its art so clearly the council and the ministry of sports, culture and youth affairs are not doing something right," said Nkonyane.

“It is a really tough one, it is depressing.

There is nothing inspiring for us as artists in the country, and if government wanted us to do more, why not just have that conversation with us.

The arts sector has a huge potential to generate revenue for this country, so if government invested in the sector, then we would definitely play a role in bettering the state of the economy. When it comes to the council, all I have to say is that even when we sit down and make plans, the execution is then never done, so I understand the frustration coming from artists,” said Thembinkhosi Mthethwa.

ACASWA's Public Relations Officer Nhlanhla Mathunjwa said as far as the gospel sector was concerned, they were happy with the council and what it was working on.

“We have a great relationship with the council because last year, they helped us in funding to facilitate for an online lessons for artists. Every now and then, they help us out when we need help. I think artists need to understand that the council does not deal with them directly, the council deals with associations.

They should make proposals and submit to their associations who will then take the proposal to the council for potential funding.

All in all, I would also like to appreciate His Majesty’s government for supporting us with the little it has even in such tumultuous times in our economy,” he added. When sought for comment, ENCAC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stanley Dlamini said the council was disappointed with the amount of the subvention.

"The subvention is just way too little.

We have projects to run, some are already up and to then try give relief to to artists needs much more funding. In terms of artists saying they do not know about what we do, well, that is shocking to us.

They should get in touch with their associations who we are in constant contact with, because we are a national association we do not deal directly with artists,” said the CEO.

Dlamini also said they would however use whatever they were given to continue to do what they can to keep the industry afloat.

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