In response to the serious economic scars that the Coronavirus continues to leave in the creative industry, the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA)
and its members (the creative community) have kick-started the “I lost My Gig” campaign. The campaign flyers that are highly circulated on all social media platforms aim to highlight the damaging effects of COVID-19 on the industry and to get the government’s immediate intervention to save one of the highest contributors to the economy, the creative industry.
“We are in trouble as an industry and we need the intervention of the powers that be. Other governments around the world have intervened to save their industries. Just recently, South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture, Nathi Mthethwa announced a relief fund of R150 million towards assisting artists, athletes, and technical personnel to soften the economic impact of the COVID-19 on their livelihoods. Our industry needs the same,” said the Vice President of BEPA Gilbert Seagile, commonly known as PP in an interview.
The creative industry was the first to take a hit during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the cancellation or postponement of festivals large and small, concert tours and individual performances nationwide. And while at first, it may seem that it’s only the artists who are suffering this loss, it is also the wider community and staff including lighting technicians, ushers, merchandise sellers, warm-up acts that are also being impacted. Many events are left in a state of uncertainty while performers and businesses have lost vital income and many live from hand to mouth without the security of employment benefit or job security.
“Some industry players have taken loans to stage shows that have now been canceled, remember we have no sponsors in Botswana. They had paid for logistics and they are now left with costs and we can imagine how they are now paying rent and other bills. By sharing and spreading our flyers online creatives are echoing our sentiments and we want to bring the attention of leaders to our plight urgently,” said PP.
PP who also owns a promotions company, Gilbert Promotion suggests that the Ministry of Youth, Sports Empowerment and Culture (MYSEC) should establish a relief fund by diverting all the funds that were meant to stage all the canceled events of the ministry. Just yesterday the minister of MYSEC, Tumiso Rakgare announced that all the affected stakeholders would benefit from the COVID-19 relief fund at the end of the pandemic.
Says PP: “We do not know when that will help is needed now and not after the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is already there and we need timelines and a clear plan. We need to discuss it further with the minister and come up with a model that works.”