Government will now have to address sector issues through two federations
By Edward Tsumele
It looks like it increasingly will get harder for authorities to make the claim that as government they are unable to attend to some of the issues bedevilling the cultural and creative industries meaningfully because the sector is not organised. Whenever artists complained in the past that their issues are not addressed comprehensively by different government departments dealing with the cultural and creative industries, the retort from government has always been that it was difficult and complicated to solve these issues simply because there is no umbrella body representing this sector and with which government could interact with meaningfully to solve some of the teething problems they face as creatives.
While the arrival of Covid-19, has poised challenges of its own for all sectors of the global economy, as well as disrupting normal social norms and threatening public health, how different sectors of society respond to the global pandemic makes all the difference.
One such sector that was pushed to creatively deal with the often precarious position they usually find themselves in, especially when it comes to accessing resources to create their works and therefore earn a living, is the creativeand cultural sector.
When the sector, which collectively contributes significantly to the GDP – R2.1 billion annually, found itself almost on the fringes of government priorities when it came to government emergency relief assistance relating to the impact of Covid-19, hard reality about their vulnerability hit home.
Relief efforts by government to assist artists was inadequate, relief funds were disbursed haphazardly and inconsistently, and delays to pay out the funds where artists were identified as qualifying of assistance became an embarrassing feature of especially the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture’s (DSAC)’s response to the Covid-19 induced need for assistance by desperate and hungry artists.
However, not all the problems could reasonably be laid at the door of (DSAC) for this sorry state of affairs. Artists themselves were caught unprepared and embarrassingly disunited. For example, a federation purporting to be representing artists, and funded by DSAC for the past six years, was exposed for not having had a buy in-from a suspicious creative and cultural sector.
And therefore when DSAC in its first wave of grants aimed at assisting artists roped in the Cultural and Creative Industry Federation of South Africa (CIFSA)to assist in determining who qualified to get assistance, government was left with an egg on its face when a big portion of the creative sector completely rejected CIFSA as representing their interests, arguing that the organisation does not have affiliates to qualify as a legitimate federation representing the creative and cultural sector as a whole.
It did not help matters when a perception was created in the creative sector that not only does CIFSA claim to be representing the whole creative and cultural sector in the country, but that it seemed to have the ear of Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, when he seeks advice about how to assist the sector during these difficult times.
The result of this dissatisfaction was a quick and even aggressive mobilisation of the sector that saw segments of the sector forming different associations that all spoke with one voice, and that loud voice was saying they were not happy with the assistance coming from government. They were also unanimous in rejecting CIFSA as a federation representing the whole sector.
The result of all this is that the country now has two federations, both claiming to be representing the creative and cultural sector. Not a bad thing in a democracy though, except that government must also now do for the newly formed South African United Cultural and Creative Industry Federation (SAUCCIF), what it has been doing for CIFSA for the past six years, especially making financial resources available for the new federation to do its work for the sector effectively.
In fact the formalisation of SAUCCIF gained momentum this past weekend when an interim leadership was put in place.
The newly formed (SAUCCIF) hosted their first AGM this week and elected an interim steering committee.
The Federation was launched in October 2020 to be an umbrella body, comprising of some of the organisations and private companies that united after the national march that took place in August this year, due to the financial crisis effecting the Cultural and Creative Industries. It is the first CCI Membership-based federation with affiliates.
Says newly elected president of the federation Sibongile Mngoma “The formation of SAUCCIF, as the first federation that is founded by artists organisations by themselves for themselves, is a win for the Cultural and Creative Industries. It’s the dawn of a new era,”in a media statement issued yesterday, November 19, 2020.
SAUCCIF INTERIM STEERING COMMITTEE
Ms Sibongile Mngoma
Mr Romeo Ramadua
Mr Thandile Petshwa
Mr Gabi Le Roux
Ms Renee Hartslief
Mr Thami akaMbongo
DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING COORDINATOR
Mr Naren Sewpaul
Mr Ricky Moss
Mr Bongani Mnisi
Ms Bridget van Oerle
And Mr Ralton Nolan
Ms Ilanza Perold
Ms Evh’a Nteso
Ms Vicky Sampson