BEPA lays out safe plan for performance industry

BEPA has proposed a set of measures that include negative test certificates for people to enter venues for live shows as means to end the embargo on entertainment and abjection of entertainers. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports

Following the closure of the performance sector due to COVID-19, the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) have devised a safe re-opening plan to end the misery of its members and entertain a nation now starved of amusement and fun for over a year.

Presented in a document that will be submitted to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) and the COVID-19 Task Force, BEPA is optimistic that live performers will return to the stage fairly soon without compromising public health and safety.

“This is not a reckless approach but a well researched document that has been benchmarked against what is being done in other countries,” said the president of BEPA, Gilbert Seagile.

“We had a meeting with MYSC and they wanted accountability. We have closed all the gaps and are ready to demonstrate how we can live alongside this virus. Other countries are doing it successfully.”

In its safe re-opening guidelines, BEPA proposes that: Only promoters licensed by the association should be allowed under licensing by COSBOTS with which BEPA plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose.

Venues should be allowed to operate at a 30% capacity or alternatively to host 100 people indoors and 250 for outdoor events.

People should have a negative test certificate to access events as patrons and revelers.
Events should end two hours before 10pm for as long as the hour remains the onset of curfew time.

Only people with a negative test certificate should be eligible for pre-sold tickets to events.

Says Seagile: “We call on the MYSC, the COVID-19 Task Force and the cabinet to take immediate action in a coordinated manner and to do whatever it takes to alleviate the undesirable effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the entertainment and live performance industry.

“BEPA has also been benchmarking on the progress of opening events in the UK, South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. We have seen our own artists performing in South Africa and other neighbouring countries.”

He is the head of an organization that organizes events for an industry characterized by self-employment, freelancing, hustlers and job flexibility in Botswana. Commenting on the current situation of key players in the industry, the spokesman of BEPA, David Abram, said promoters and events service providers are severely marginalized by the protracted discontinuation of live events.

“They are now peddling their cars, music instruments and other equipment on social media,” Abram said. “These are service providers who have been in the industry for decades. Sheriffs have evicted some people and more of our members have been convicted and are serving civil imprisonment terms due to lack of financial support.”

He asserted that the government has taken more than a reasonable length of time without devising solutions geared at resuscitating the creative industry. “Without immediate action, the negative consequences of this crisis will affect much more than our economy,” said Abram. “It could take us many years to recover from this embargo on entertainment.”