Well done Rakgare!

Creatives have applauded the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development for extending monthly stipends to them as announced early this week but want further assessment done with their unions. GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports

Various players within the creative sector have commended the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC) for answering their appeal for support for the youth, micro businesses, sports and the creative sector.

This follows Minister Tumiso Rakgare’s announcement of more than P70 million earmarked for different stakeholders under his ministry to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in a televised address on Monday this week.

For the Arts and Culture sector, Rakgare said professional artists registered with COSBOTS would be paid a wage subsidy of P2500 per month while up and coming artists would receive P1000 per month for three months. Promoters will also receive P2500 per month while an assessment of other deserving creatives would be undertaken to determine how to assist them.

Contact sports and the creative and arts sector are especially hard hit by the lockdown to prevent and control the spread of the Coronavirus that has entailed prohibition of gatherings and closure of halls and stadia. “This resulted in loss of income for the arts and culture practitioners whose lives were dependent on their artistic skills and … we saw it fit to play our part and assist even though we took longer to respond,” the minister said.

Industry players have welcomed this development. Promoter Seabelo Modibe has described it as an “equitable share of resources”. “The Ministry did its best to assist and we must give credit where it is due,” Modibe added. “We cannot expect instant and perfect results from the process because it is something new. This is the perfect time for the ministry to liaise and breathe life into the different industry unions across all creative sectors for the smooth running of this process.”

Jazz artist and notable creative industry advocate, Thabang Garogwe, said they are grateful that their appeal for relief has finally borne fruit. The process may have taken longer than expected but the ministry did not ignore and leave them out in the cold eventually. “This is the sort of leadership that we yearned for all these years because we are now on the same page,” Garogwe noted in an interview, visibly elated. “I am particularly thankful that they included our up and coming artists to improve the quality of their lives.”

But while Godwin ‘Exotic’ Sebina of Exzozo Entertainment shared similar sentiments, he warned against using the COSBOTS database to determine beneficiaries. He said this is because the industry has been fighting a losing battle with the royalty collections society to match up its royalty payouts with the work of artists.

“I hear there are 980 artists in the COSBOTS database,” Exotic added. “There are more artists who are not registered with them because of unfairness. They should have engaged relevant stakeholders such as BEPA and artists’ unions because it is difficult to survey the creative industry as it is mainly informal. I just hope this process is fair and makes sure deserving people are not left out.”

According to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Kago Ramokate, the assessment of beneficiaries is set to begin on Wednesday this week.