The creative sector is a contributor to the economy and is a direct generator of employment and its multiplying effects cannot be underestimated. This statement was made by the Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mr Avinash Teeluck, yesterday afternoon, in the National Assembly. He was intervening during debates on the National Budget for the period 2020-2021.
Government, he recalled, pays particular attention to the cultural and creative sector and has a vision and the Budget presented goes along these lines not only to boost the economy but also in upholding a social aspect. Mr Teeluck emphasised that maintaining the welfare of Mauritian artists and spurring creativity remains one of the primary objectives of the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage.
The post Covid-19 cultural landscape, highlighted the Minister, will no longer be the same and during the lockdown period, artists around the world including in Mauritius have reinvented artistic interactions. There is thus a need to readapt, he stated, and elaborated on certain measures taken to address the effects of the pandemic on the artistic community, namely: provision of Rs 19 Million to finance the Covid-19 Action Plan 2020. The Plan contains 13 measures to support artists and revamp the cultural sector including the production of virtual concerts.
The National Arts Fund, further observed Mr Teeluck, has been instrumental in giving support to artists and enhancing the level of artistic productions. The Fund is offering a special grant to take on board digital innovative projects to enable artists adapt to the new environment and take up advantage of new technologies to make their works more accessible.
As regards the status of the Artists, the Minister recognised that artists due to their atypical working conditions fall into the informal sector and as at date there are no official register for professionals in the arts. Artists do not enjoy the rights to which other workers are entitled for instance contributory pensions schemes, paid holidays or other leaves and the end of year bonuses. This prevents them from professionalising their work in order to optimise the potential of the creative sector for economic growth, job creation and social inclusion, he observed.
Therefore, a Status of the artist Bill is being drafted, and will also provide for the creation of a register for the professionalisation of the arts and the issue of a professional card, announced Mr Teeluck. This will be implemented by a new institution, the national body for professionals in the art.
As regards cultural heritage, the Minister announced that the National Heritage Fund Act 2003 will be revamped to domesticate various international Conventions on heritage signed by Mauritius. This will provide added protection to the national heritage of the country by stiffening the penalty for acts of vandalism perpetrated against Mauritius's national heritage sites and there will also be extension of legal protection of sites of historical and heritage value which have not been designated as national heritage.
According to Mr Teeluck, preserving cultural heritage and opening it to all parts of the society is vital if we are to create a common sense of belonging. Innovative technologies such as virtual or augmented reality can enhance how people experience cultural heritage and new technologies can offer a unique creative and interactive experience and attract a wider audience, he said. A mobile app will be developed for the discovery and virtual experience of the rich heritage of Mauritius, he announced.
2020-2021 Budgetary measures include:
Rs 15 Million to finance events under a cultural calendar
An amount of Rs 35 Million for the preservation and rehabilitation of historical and cultural sites
An expression of interest to be launched to develop an Art District in Port-Louis
Strategic public places will be opened up for busking, art installations and for performing arts
The EDB and the National Art Gallery will create an Online Fine Art Gallery to host art exhibitions and facilitate sales to the public
Space will be made available at the Multi-sports Complex at Côte d'Or for fine art exhibitions and for performing art events
An Art Festival will be organised on the weekend of the National Music Day 2021 to provide a platform to our artists to display their talents