South Africa: Get Sibongile Mngoma Back On Stage - and Sort Out the National Arts Council Funding Shambles

opinion

Until the arts funding crisis under Covid-19 hit, the National Arts Council was the last bastion of sensible, ethical and fair funding of the arts in South Africa. It has taken a single pot of money, an administrative shambles and an ill-advised (and possibly illegal) response from the council to dismantle that reputation in a few short weeks.

Sibongile Mngoma should be on stage, under lights, singing. Anyone who has heard the current torchbearer of South Africa's first family of song would agree: it's where she's at her best.

Instead, though, she is locked down with a group of artists in the National Arts Council's (NAC's) boardroom in Johannesburg, sleeping on the floor, eating from delivered takeaway containers and channelling the triple whip of her name, reputation and talent into protesting against the treatment of artists at the hand of South Africa's funding agencies.

A household name, sleeping on the floor for a week. Angry, exhausted, frustrated and saddened. How did it come to this?

The NAC funding debacle is well documented and anyone in the sector will have an opinion about what went wrong, how it could have been avoided, who is to blame. In short, R300-million allocated to...

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