- The culture of negotiating payments must stop
- It is a sad situation that other performers are facing
Founder of Mafitlhakgosi traditional group, Joseph Ikopeng has revealed that negotiated payments are crippling the growing and vibrant group. He says it is a sad situation for his Old Naledi based group of more than 20 members who are usually paid P3000 or even P2000 for a performance when their booking fee is P15 000.
“I am also fully aware that this culture of negotiated pay affects other performers in the country but it is a situation I would like to see change. There is a potential for change because we see international acts being paid more and we deserve the same treatment,” he said also adding, “even though our pay is at most times negotiated we always make sure we pull off an impressive performance.”
Ikopeng says even though this situation has the potential to break up the group that is massively talented they have been able to reach out to the families of the participating children about the financial situation. “Lucky for me all these children’s parents are aware of the challenges we face when it comes to payments. This helps in a situation where they would think I am ripping their children off,” he pointed out. He says even though the situation is demotivating quitting was not an option. “I sometimes think to myself, if we were to quit all these children would go back to the streets and maybe land themselves into difficult situations, something I would not want to see because performance keeps them busy,” he said.
Negotiated pay is the reason why most groups fell off, talented groups, said Ikopeng who also added that sometimes he has dilemma of turning down little pay because there will always be someone willing to take the offer. “It is always a tough situation, but we end up taking up the opportunity because we want our members to keep busy and expose themselves to the world. One day we will be recognised and we will be paid what we are worth,” he said.
Moreover , while Ikopeng was in New York last month with Mophato Dance group he says he found out that the arts were a huge industry that was taken very seriously in America. He says it was an industry that was diversifying their economy, “The arts are big business and the future, I saw that in New York and it can happen in Botswana if we start regulating the industry. I am due for a meeting with promoters to forge a way forward to see if we can curb the situation and save our industry.”