The Arts and Culture Department has reprioritised its budget allocation from Quarter One to avail over R150 million to provide much needed relief to practitioners in the sector, as the country prepares for 21 days of a national lockdown.
"The allocated funds will be utilised to render various forms of support to practitioners during this period.
"Priority will be given to artists and practitioners, who were already booked by some of the cancelled and postponed events funded by the department, as well as to the legends of the industry," said the Minister of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), Nathi Mthethwa.
He was one of several Ministers to brief media on Wednesday on measures government is taking to counter the effects of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020, to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
With the rapid spread of the virus through close contact, the arts and culture sector - which relies on big events filled to capacity - is one of the hardest hit.
Since the outbreak, over 25 TV productions have been postponed and about 15 live shows have been cancelled.
In a bid to mitigate the economic impact on the sector, the DSAC, together with the Communication Department, is engaging broadcasters to ensure that producers pay casts and crews, who were due to go into production.
"Among the measures announced by the President was to limit gatherings to less than 100 people.
"This necessary measure was a fatal blow to the sector, since it depends on numbers for it to survive - be it gigs, concerts or sporting matches," said the Minister.
On the sporting front, the Olympic Games and several football matches were cancelled.
Partnership with the DSAC Playhouses to create live streaming programmes
In support of playhouses, which are entities of the DSAC, the department will avail to artists a platform to perform live streaming activities, which include stand-up comedy, poetry sessions and music.
"This will be done to keep people entertained, to showcase the work of the creatives, and to promote local content across all art genres.
"The department will commission service providers in the digital space to curate new programmes in all disciplines to ensure that artists continue to work. The department will share detailed plans on the process for participation," said the Minster.
Support from entities of DSAC to practitioners
The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) will offer immediate relief to practitioners in the film industry by prioritising and making payments to beneficiaries, who have submitted milestones in the past two weeks on an urgent basis.
Beneficiaries, who are yet to submit milestones over the next three months, will also be paid.
As part of the slates programme, which benefits young emerging producers, the NFVF has identified a savings of R4.5 million from the current fiscal, which will be used as part of the relief programme.
"NFVF will provide a cash injection of R500 000 to the nine companies currently commissioned by the organisation. This relief will only be contained to the slates currently commissioned by the institution, and would be extended to anyone else in the industry," said Mthethwa.
Support local content
The department also called upon both public and private broadcasters to lend a hand in the relief programme towards the sector by playing more locally produced content to enable artists to earn royalties, and to show patriotism towards their country.
In an effort to educate and create and awareness, the DSAC will partner with artists to share messages about COVID-19, and also to communicate messages that will bring courage and hope to South African citizens.
"Through our campaign, we will be sending out a strong message that carries many voices. This we will attain by commissioning young and upcoming artists, renowned artists, and our legends to curate via their respective social media platforms," said Mthethwa.