A promoter queried at a meeting: Long distance buses are running fully laden when we cannot have an open-air picnic where social distancing would be the easiest thing to observe?
After the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development stated last Friday that arts events would remain suspended, the creative industry is still insisting on a similar relaxation of the rules being extended to it.
In a press release, the ministry said activities that entail people gathering would remain prohibited until further notice, prompting another online campaign by players in the creative industry that calls attention to the plight of artists yet again. “We are dying,” the campaigners wrote online. “Open up the creative industry.”
Creatives had gathered in a meeting at Notwane Club in Gaborone the previous day. “During the lockdown, everyone was looking at our industry for entertainment but when considerations are made, it seems our industry is not important,” events organiser and creative director of Colours of Sounds, Massie Hule, told the meeting.
“The situation is really bad for us. Since the lockdown, I have had to buy 13 food hampers to assist artists who on a normal day were able to feed themselves. It’s not as though we wasted money and did not save because our industry is very expensive to maintain. Promoters are willing to pay to ensure the safety of patrons at events. Just let us work; we are hungry.”
Promoter, David ‘DvD’ Abram told the meeting that efforts to engage with relevant authorities to map a way forward had yielded no results. The efforts had included a letter detailing how cancellation of concluded events had affected the creatives involved and an outline of recovery measures to rescue the industry.
“We still don’t have the answers but we are among the affected industries like tourism,” Abram said. “But when you look at tourism, their subsidies have been extended. We ask that you look at us as entrepreneurs and create appropriate policies that can benefit the industry. Yes, there is the COVID-19 Relief Fund which has rejected most artists, but we are asking for is an opportunity to start operating so we feed ourselves.”
Event organiser, Lecco Kenosi, argued that because sectors that similarly involve people gathering like education and transport were operating, a similar arrangement should be extended to the creative industry. “In the transport sector, buses embarking on seven-hour journeys are filled to capacity but we cannot have a picnic event where people can easily maintain social distancing?,” Kenosi queried.