Two weeks after it was put out, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) has received 55 submissions on the draft National Arts Council Bill from creatives.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Kago Ramokate, there was a surge after Minister Tumiso Rakgare raised concern that creatives were not responding.
May 15 was set as the closing date for these submissions for the bill to be ready for tabling during the winter session of Parliament. “After we sent out the call for submissions of feedback, the response was below average,” Ramokate said. “But just before the closing date, we witnessed a surge in feedback from artists’ organisations, individual artists and other relevant stakeholders. We are happy and satisfied with the response.”
“Our next step is to share the draft with lawyers before it is tabled before Parliament. The main thrust of the bill is to set up an autonomous, professionally run organisation with proper governance structures for promotion of the creative sector. The council will be budgeted for next year because it will take some time to set processes in motion.”
Regarding furlough for artists from the COVID-19 Relief Fund, Ramokate said the ministry was still receiving applications and that the process was running smoothly. “The only issues we might have are if people decide to submit their applications after the closing date, which is on the 4th of June,” he said.
Beneficiaries are people whose primary occupation is in the arts. They should be Botswana citizens aged 18 years or older, be able to demonstrate a direct impact of COVID-19 on their livelihood, prove membership of COSBOTS, and have registered for the 2020 President’s Day Competitions. Applicants should have not have benefited from the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.
P70.2 million has been set aside to support stakeholders under the ministry for the months of April, May and June. Professional artists will receive an allowance of P2 500 each while supporting or back-up artists will be paid P1000 each per month.
Measures have been put in place to ensure that only eligible people will benefit. Minister Rakgare has warned that cheats will face the wrath of the law. “Giving false information to the government is a crime,” the minister has said.