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MYSC calls for research into impact of COVID-19 on creative industry

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  • Says processing of funds for artists for relief continues
  • Pledges to engage with the creative sector continuously

GOSEGO MOTSUMI

The year 2020 began as a promising one for the creative economy. However, along with other sectors, it was hit hard by the shutdown of business caused by the novel coronavirus in the first quarter.

In an attempt to understand the effect of the crisis on the sector, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC), Tumiso Rakgare has called on research institutions such as Statistics Botswana, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), the University of Botswana, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, and arts and culture bodies to assist with further research post-COVID-19.

“This will assist in availing data to determine informed support strategies and the right measures or policies towards the recovery and growth of the sector postCOVID-19 pandemic,” Rakgare said at the Botswana Musicians Union General Assembly in Gaborone last weekend.

Minister Rakgare said the pandemic had compelled the ministry to devise mitigation strategies, both long and short-term, to invest and reassess the sector in collaboration with various stakeholders and unite efforts to uplift the lives of creators and investors in the sector. The COVID-19 emergency has also compelled the government to review its arts and culture policies to avail support and resources that are relevant under the current situation.

Giving an update on the COVID-19 Relief Fund that the government put in place in June, the minister said it attracted 13 445 applications 10 619 of which were approved for a total of P15 776 000. Contrary to popular belief that the ministry had reneged on this pledge, Rakgare said the payments were ongoing at various MYSC offices.

“However, there has been some delay in the assessment process due to various issues of failure by artists to provide authentic contacts, double-dipping, duplicate applications submitted at different district stations, as well as instances of some applications submitting as individuals and also as part of a group,” the minister explained.

He assured creatives that his ministry would continuously keep the creative sector engaged. In July, Rakgare noted, the government was unable to host the annual President’s Day Competitions because of the prevailing circumstances. Even so, the government collaborated with Botswana Television for some artists to present a mini-celebration across different genres. “I am determined to continue to host smaller events to put money in the pockets of the artists for survival during the state of public emergency,” he said.

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