Creatives seek meeting with COVID-19 Task Team

  • BOMU, BEPA feel shortchanged by limit of 50 patrons
  • Say they have not been sufficiently consulted


The announcement last Friday that 50 patrons would be the limit at live shows has left creatives long-jawed because of what they say is the way to more indebtedness.

“Fifty people is the same as not opening the industry at all,” said the president of Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU), Phemelo Lesok-wane.

“The expectation was that at least 250 people would be the limit. On the other hand, we are aware that people may not turn up in large numbers for fear of the virus.”

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, made this announcement in a televised media briefing on the lifting of restrictions for the arts and entertainment sector last Friday.

The sector is feeling shortchanged and BOMU is consequently seeking an audience with the task force to present the idea of a partnership with the ministry, the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) and a network company for hosting virtual music shows as a means of artists earning a meaningful livelihood and at least breaking even.

“The funds injected by MYSC could pay for the venue and production, the network company could pay artists and the public could be engaged by voting for performers they would like to see perform through the sponsoring network company,” Lesokwane said. “Virtual shows are our best shot because we have to co-exist with this virus.”

The Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), which has been at the forefront of the campaign to re-open the sector, is also disappointed that MYSC and the COVID-19 Task Force have not consulted the organization as industry experts and wants a meeting.

“They do not understand the struggles that we currently face,” the president of BEPA, Gilbert Seagile, told Time Out. “Fifty people will not make a difference in an industry that has not been working for the past eight months. We want events to host 50 percent of the capacity of venues. The task force should involve in the same way that it has been engaging with other sectors. We want to meet with them.”

During the live media briefing on Btv, Minister Rakgare said the government had authorised the opening of art galleries, theaters, amphithe-aters, halls and conference facilities, cinemas, recording studios, televi-sion studios, stadia and open spaces.

The stricture of less than 50 patrons in the preparation of arts and entertainment activities are exhibitions, dramas, disc jockeys, musical performances, poetry performances, comedy and traditional song and dance.

“We did not want to close the industry completely because we understand that creatives are not making any money but we wanted to at least give a change to those creatives who can earn something with those numbers,” Rakgare said. “With the escalating COVID-19 cases, it is difficult to reach the numbers we might have wanted. The task force assessed our proposal and this was our best shot.”